March 09, 2016 12:50
The government took a fresh set of sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday, seeking to further pressure Pyongyang's financial and shipping networks and sources of foreign currency.
The measures followed the closure of the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex last month and came just five days after UN Security Council separately tightened sanctions against the North.
Seoul's own steps include blacklisting senior North Korean officials like Kim Yong-chol, who was allegedly behind the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, and individuals and organizations in third countries that have links to the North's nuclear and missile programs.
South Korea will also bar any ships that have docked in North Korean ports in the last six months and imports of North Korean products labeled as originating from China or Russia.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is busy chalking up big noisy achievements ahead of the Workers Party congress in May. It will be the first proper party congress in 36 years. Seoul needs to make sure that the North gets a strong and clear message that nuclear weapons and economic prosperity do not go together.
International cooperation must be meticulously orchestrated to block all possible channels of funding for the North's nuclear and missile development programs, and sanctions must be implemented rigorously to deal a severe economic blow. North Korean agricultural products and textiles must not enter the country disguised as Chinese or Russian, and South Koreans have to stop spending money in North Korean restaurants abroad that earn money for the regime.
Close international cooperation is crucial. China has cut down on imports of North Korean coal and other trading activities with the North, but full-fledged trade sanctions have yet to begin. Seoul needs to convince Beijing to go all the way.
The situation also requires diplomatic cooperation with the U.S. and Japan, which have also launched separate sanctions, and encouraging Southeast Asian and European nations to take part. A repeat of previous failures due to half-hearted implementation must be avoided at all costs.
The international community must harden itself against North Korea's habitual tactic of agreeing to sit down to talks while continuing its nuclear and missile programs. The U.S. has made this mistake many times, as has China. Seoul must stay in close touch with the U.S., China, Japan and Russia. They cannot show any signs of weakness until North Korea finally buckles under pressure.
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