April 20, 2016 10:47
South Korea, the U.S. and Japan on Tuesday warned North Korea of stronger sanctions as signs emerge of an impending nuclear test.
Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki.
At a joint press conference Lim said the three countries will not accept additional provocations by Pyongyang, which would find itself in "deeper isolation" should it conduct another nuclear test.
The three officials also hinted at increased pressure on North Korea to improve its human rights record with the aid of sanctions. Blinken said the three countries will join forces to respond to North Korea's human rights abuses.
One diplomatic source said the warning concerns mainly North Korean workers abroad who still earn some hard cash for the regime. Most North Koreans abroad live and work in horrid conditions, while their wages are being confiscated by the state, and this could prompt punitive measures citing human rights abuses, the source added.
The meetings between the vice foreign ministers was prompted by Blinken, who was appointed early last year. The first took place in Washington in April 2015 and the second in Tokyo on Jan. 16 this year, 10 days after North Korea conducted its latest nuclear test.
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