Seoul, Washington search for new sanctions

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Seoul, Washington search for new sanctions

South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byung-se called on the international community to put more sanctions and pressure on North Korea so that it could “suffer from pain” - and change.

Yun’s statement was made during a meeting with senior diplomats Saturday, a day after North Korea carried out its fifth nuclear test and the UN Security Council decided to mull a new resolution.

“It’s clear that Kim Jong-un has absolutely no interest whatsoever in changing,” said Yun. The minister said Seoul must join forces with the international community and force the North Korean leader to surrender his nuclear ambitions through additional sanctions.

Yun did not talk specifics but a senior official at the Foreign Affairs Ministry later said Seoul and Washington have been discussing since April additional measures and agreed to put them in force if Pyongyang pulled off a fifth nuclear test.

The sanctions included more embargoes on trade, the source mentioned.

Another high-ranking government official said Washington and Seoul were settling on an agreement to convince the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution that would block the North’s imports of crude oil, a major step.

In a report submitted to the National Assembly, the South’s Ministry of National Defense vowed to “maximize” its psychological warfare against Pyongyang, in part by installing more loud speakers on the South-North border, which are used to blast bouncy K-pop songs and announcements critical of the North Korean regime.

South Korea’s appeal for more pressure was widely echoed.

Reuters reported Sunday that Sung Kim, a U.S. special envoy and former ambassador to Seoul, said the U.S. may launch sanctions against North Korea with Tokyo and Seoul.

Specific details of the unilateral sanctions have yet to be decided, Kim reportedly said, while speaking to reporters in Tokyo after meeting Japanese foreign ministry officials.

“We will be working very closely in the Security Council and beyond to come up with the strongest possible measure against North Korea’s latest actions,” Kim was quoted as saying.

U.S. President Barack Obama lashed out on the nuclear test last Friday in a statement issued by the White House, calling it a “grave threat” to regional security and to international peace and stability.

“To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” he said.

Obama vowed to work with the UN Security Council, other six-party partners and the international community to “take additional significant steps, including new sanctions” to demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to its unlawful and dangerous actions.

The 388-worded statement, however, did not specify what those additional steps would be.

“As Commander in Chief, I have a responsibility to safeguard the American people and ensure that the United States is leading the international community in responding to this threat and North Korea’s other provocations with commensurate resolve and condemnation,” said Obama.

The AP reported over the weekend that Hillary Clinton, the U.S. democratic presidential candidate, said it was time for a “rethinking” of America’s strategy for North Korea and that she would seek to impose tougher sanctions on the communist nation.

Clinton was also quoted as saying she would consider discussions similar to recent negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, because sanctions “aren’t enough.”

Donald Trump, the republican presidential candidate, didn’t outline his plans for defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and instead used the North Korean development to attack Clinton, reported the AP.

“North Korea, like so many other things, is one more Hillary Clinton failure,” he was reported as saying.

The UN Security Council said in a statement Saturday that its members “will begin to work immediately on appropriate measures under Article 41 in a Security Council resolution,” which states: “The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effects to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chimed in through a separate statement, calling Pyongyang’s latest nuclear threat a “brazen breach” of the resolutions of the Security Council. “This unacceptable act endangers peace and security in the region and is another vivid reminder of the urgent need to strengthen the global nuclear test ban regime.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a statement last Friday that the nuclear test was “totally unacceptable” and that North Korea’s latest nuclear development constitutes a “grave threat” to Japan’s security and “seriously undermines” the peace and security of the international community.

“Japan lodges a serious protest against North Korea, and condemns North Korea in the strongest possible terms,” said Abe, adding Japan will “consider further measures” against North Korea including “further actions” in the UN Security Council.

Xinhua News Agency, China’s official press, reported that Beijing expressed “firm opposition” to the nuclear test and that it will, along with the international community, keep working toward the goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and commit to settling problems through the six-party talks.

At least 63 nations and seven international bodies have issued statements condemning Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, YOO JEE-HYE [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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