Swiss levy new North sanctions

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Swiss levy new North sanctions

Switzerland imposed tighter sanctions on North Korea Wednesday, ordering the freezing of assets held by North Koreans in the country and closure of their bank accounts as well as blocking funds owned by the North Korean government.

The measure, which took into effect Wednesday, covers far-reaching areas including banking, maritime and air transport, education and trade, and specifically restricted exports of luxury items to the country’s elite.

The measures are in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2270, which was adopted in March in response to the North’s nuclear test in January and a long-range missile test, and extends existing sanctions.

“Financial sanctions (the freezing of assets and a ban on the provision of finances) now apply to a wider group of persons,” said the Swiss government in a statement released Wednesday. “All funds and economic resources connected with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have been blocked. This also applies, subject to one exception, to funds and economic resources owned or controlled by the government or the Korean Workers’ Party.”

The Swiss said the exception related to funds intended for North Korean diplomats in Switzerland.

An existing ban on exports of luxury items has been extended to include more goods.

Switzerland will also ban imports of certain raw materials from North Korea such as coal, iron and rare earth minerals.

Switzerland said it will prohibit Swiss banks from opening branches, subsidiaries or offices in North Korea and ordered existing branches and bank accounts in North Korea closed by June 2. It also ordered the closure of branches of North Korean banks in Switzerland by the same deadline.

Under the new sanctions, North Koreans will be prohibited from studying in Switzerland “in subjects such as higher physics, advanced computer simulation or nuclear engineering,” a measure that could personally sting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un given his years of studying in the country with his younger sister Yo-jong.

Switzerland also banned the export of aviation fuel to North Korea and will require a clearance check for items such as ski and golfing equipment to make sure they are not used to enhance the capabilities of the North Korean military.

Kim Jong-un is estimated to have up to $5 billion in dozens of offshore accounts, according to various media reports. A Unification Ministry official said Thursday he did not know the exact amount of Kim’s hidden wealth but is aware of projections by media reports.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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