New sanc­tions put on North Korea

U.s. of­fi­cials ratchet up pres­sure dur­ing visit to south korea, DmZ

Austin American-Statesman - - THURSDAY BRIEFING - By Mark Landler and Elis­a­beth Bu­miller

SEOUL, South Korea — The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced Wed­nes­day that it would im­pose fur­ther eco­nomic sanc­tions against North Korea, throw­ing le­gal weight be­hind a chore­ographed show of pres­sure on the North Kore­ans that in­cluded an un­usual joint visit to the demil­i­ta­rized zone by Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton and De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert Gates.

The mea­sures, an­nounced here by Clin­ton af­ter talks with South Korean of­fi­cials, fo­cus on coun­ter­feit­ing, money laun­der­ing and other deal­ings that she said the North Korean govern­ment used to gen­er­ate hard cur­rency to cling to power.

While the United States al­ready has heavy sanc­tions against North Korea, U.S. of­fi­cials in­sisted that the new mea­sures would fur­ther tighten the fi­nan­cial vise around North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who, ac­cord­ing to re­gional in­tel­li­gence, is in de­clin­ing health.

The uni­lat­eral U.S. ac­tion came two months af­ter a South Korean-led in­ves­ti­ga­tion found North Korea re­spon­si­ble for the March sink­ing of the South Korean war­ship Cheo­nan and the deaths of 46 sailors. Clin­ton de­manded that North Korea take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, say­ing it would con­tinue to be a pariah un­til it did so. She ruled out any ne­go­ti­a­tions with the North Korean govern­ment un­til it agreed to re­lin­quish its nu­clear weapons. And she said that the United States would ex­pand and stiffen its sanc­tions to “tar­get their lead­er­ship, tar­get their as­sets.”

“These mea­sures are not di­rected at the peo­ple of North Korea, who have suf­fered for too long due to the mis­guided and ma­ligned pri­or­i­ties of their govern­ment,” Clin­ton said at a news con­fer­ence, flanked by Gates and South Korea’s de­fense and for­eign min­is­ters. “They are di­rected at the desta­bi­liz­ing, il­licit and provoca­tive poli­cies pur­sued by that govern­ment.”

Her an­nounce­ment punc­tu­ated a visit rich in sym­bols of U.S. diplo­macy and mil­i­tary might, or­ga­nized to mark the 60th an­niver­sary of the start of the Korean War. On Tues­day, the United States and South Korea con­firmed that they would stage large-scale mil­i­tary ex­er­cises.

On Wed­nes­day, Gates and Clin­ton trav­eled to Pan­munjom, in the demil­i­ta­rized zone be­tween the coun­tries, where they clam­bered up an ob­ser­va­tion post to peer into North Korea. “It is stun­ning how lit­tle has changed up there and yet how much South Korea con­tin­ues to grow and pros­per,” Gates said, not­ing that this was his third visit to the demil­i­ta­rized zone — the first be­ing in the early 1990s when he was di­rec­tor of cen­tral in­tel­li­gence. It was Clin­ton’s first visit. “Al­though it may be a thin line,” she said, re­fer­ring to the nar­row strip of land sep­a­rat­ing the two sides, “these two places are worlds apart.”

Lee Jae-Won

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