U.S., Japan Plan Tough Sanctions on N.Korea

      June 05, 2009 08:46

      A U.S. delegation headed by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg briefed President Lee Myung-bak and other officials on independent U.S. sanctions "with a financial focus" against North Korea, a senior Cheong Wa Dae official said on Thursday. The sanctions are expected to be an expanded version of a 2006 freeze of North Korean accounts in Banco Delta Asia in Macau.

      "At the time, the sanctions were slapped on a single bank, but the new sanctions would ban transactions with any banks suspected of being involved in the trade of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction," an official said.

      Another government official said, "The U.S. apparently wants to take its own measures because the UN Security Council's financial sanctions are modulated by the difference in positions among member countries."

      The U.S. Treasury has reportedly finished a legal review of its own sanctions policy against the Stalinist country. According to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) enacted in 1977, the U.S. president is authorized to declare the existence of an unusual and extraordinary threat to national security, foreign policy, or economy and can then block transactions and freeze assets to deal with the threat. Iran has been subject to this law since 1979, and North Korea since 2008.

      Japan is also considering financial sanctions. The Cheong Wa Dae official pointed out that Tokyo has already taken independent sanctions against the North in terms of money remittance and trade. Already after the North launched a long-range rocket in April, Japan lowered the ceiling for remittances to the North from 30 million yen to 10 million yen and is apparently considering banning them altogether. Since the North's first nuclear test in 2006, Japan has completely banned imports from the communist country.

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