S Korea supports latest UN sanctions on N Korea

Seoul : South Korea on Sunday backed the latest sanctions by the United Nations on North Korea, despite the recent thaw in ties and the reconciliatory mood between the two Koreas in recent weeks.

On Friday, the UN Security Council sanctioned 21 shipping firms from the Marshall Islands, Singapore, Panama, and Samoa, 27 vessels and an individual suspected of helping North Korea smuggle oil and coal by sea, according to Yonhap news agency.

“It’s aimed at curbing the ship-to-ship transfer and the transport of banned materials. The move represents the international community’s resolve to faithfully implement the Security Council’s resolutions against North Korea,” a South Korean foreign ministry official said.

The blacklisted entities were also included in the US Treasury Department’s sanctions, which were approved on February 23 aimed at curtailing revenues for North Korea’s persistent nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The 21 shipping firms sanctioned will also be barred from entering ports worldwide.

Taiwanese businessman Tsang Yung Yuan, who was also named in the new sanctions is subjected to an “asset freeze and travel ban” for helping Pyongyang export coal through a broker operating in a third country, according to the UN.

The decision on the sanctions by the sanctions committee was unanimously agreed by all 15 members, including China and Russia. They have called the international community to unite and pressurise North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to abandon his nuclear weapon programme, bringing him to the negotiating table and averting a military catastrophe, Wall Street Journal reported.

The United States, which is leading its efforts for the UN sanctions on North Korea has also stressed that all the countries should continue pressurising North Korea, although President Donald Trump and Kim are scheduled to hold talks in May.

“The approval of this historic sanctions package is a clear sign that the international community is united in our efforts to keep up maximum pressure on the North Korean regime,” said Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN, in a statement.

Since 2016, the United Nations has imposed tough economic sanctions on North Korea, targeting up to 90 percent of its trade revenues for repeatedly violating UN resolutions on launching ballistic missiles and conducting nuclear tests.

However, the international organisation has struggled to convince countries such as China and China, to adequately and effectively impose the sanctions.

Even though the sanctions have been imposed on Pyongyang, it continues to evade them through third parties and conducts regular nuclear programmes, according to a panel-of-experts report released last month. (ANI)