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    Seoul places new sanctions on North Korea

    SEOUL (AP) – South Korea yesterday sanctioned eight people and seven companies suspected of engaging in illicit activities to finance North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

    The move, which prohibits South Koreans from conducting any type of business with them without authorisation, was largely symbolic as there are little financial dealings between the rival Koreas.

    But the steps may still draw an irritated response from North Korea after Seoul said it’s considering placing more unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang.

    The South Korean sanctions were announced shortly after the United States (US) Treasury Department said it sanctioned three members of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party who provided support to the country’s development of nuclear and ballistic weapons.

    South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the sanctions were in response to the North’s heightening weapons threat, highlighted by last month’s testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile that demonstrated potential range to reach the US.

    Visitors watch the North Korea side from the Unification Observation Post in Paju, South Korea. PHOTO: AP

    The eight people and seven companies targetted by Seoul had already been sanctioned by Washington and were involved in a variety of North Korean efforts to evade United Nations Security Council sanctions to finance its weapons programme, the ministry said.

    Those listed on the sanctions included six officials from four different North Korean banks, a person named Chen Shih Huan, and a Singaporean named Kwek Kee Seung. Four of the sanctioned companies were North Korean trade and shipping firms and the other three were Singapore-based shipping firms.

    “(Our) government has been maintaining close coordination with the US and Japan so that the same individuals and groups are placed together under the unilateral sanctions of related nations to raise the awareness of the international community and strengthen the effectiveness of sanctions,” the ministry said in a statement.

    South Korea imposed sanctions on 15 individuals and 16 organisations accused of supporting North Korea’s arms development, which were Seoul’s first unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang in five years.

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