UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Thursday expanded the list of North Korean bodies and individuals under sanctions for nuclear and missile activities, adding its atomic energy agency and two of its top officials.
Altogether, the council’s North Korea sanctions committee clamped five new organizations and five people under asset freezes and travel bans, and banned the import into the reclusive communist state of two weapons-related materials.
Announcement of the list followed a month of committee haggling after the Security Council expanded U.N. sanctions against North Korea in a June 12 resolution that responded to a nuclear test Pyongyang carried out on May 25.
The entities sanctioned are North Korea’s General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE) and four trading companies, said committee chairman Fazli Corman, Turkey’s U.N. Ambassador.
The individuals are Ri Je-son and Hwang Sok-hwa, both described as directors at the GBAE, one other nuclear official and two trading company directors.
The measure, binding on all 192 U.N. member states, greatly lengthens an existing blacklist that consisted only of two companies and a bank involved in Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The United States was pleased the committee expanded U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang, State Department Spokesman Robert Wood said.
“These designations, along with the other measures ... constitute a serious and credible response to the May 25 nuclear test and put in place stronger and more credible sanctions than ever before in regards to North Korea,” he said.
Arms sales are a vital source of foreign currency for destitute North Korea, which has annual gross domestic product of about $17 billion and a broken economy that produces few other items it can export.
Analysts have said the new U.N. measures will make it more costly for the North to trade arms but will not likely deter customers, including Iran, who have shown little interest in joining international plans to punish Pyongyang.
The sanctions committee includes all 15 Security Council members, among them China, the closest Pyongyang has to an ally. Western diplomats said Beijing had slowed the work of the committee but had in the end gone along with the sanctions.
COMMITTEE TO CONTINUE WORK
The committee was created after the Security Council adopted punitive measures against North Korea for its first nuclear test in October 2006 but had been dormant until this April when it put the first three names on the sanctions list.
That move followed a long-range rocket launch earlier in the month by Pyongyang. Security Council resolutions ban ballistic missile launches by North Korea.
Western countries welcomed Thursday’s committee action.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said it would “strengthen the sanctions regime against North Korea and will serve to constrain North Korea from engaging in transactions or activities that could fund its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) or proliferation activities.”
Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu called the measures “a major achievement.”
Corman said the committee would continue working to identify subsidiaries of the targeted North Korean firms and additional technical items, including sensitive dual-use goods, ballistic missile-related items and nuclear-related items.
The materials that were banned by Thursday’s measure were graphite for weapons-making purposes and extra-strong para-aramid fibre such as Kevlar.
The companies targeted were Namchongang Trading Corp and Hong Kong Electronics -- both also hit by U.S. sanctions announced on June 30 -- as well as Korea Hyoksin Trading Corp and Korean Tangun Trading Corp.
Western officials say Hong Kong Electronics is based on Iran’s Kish Island but is controlled by North Korea. They say all the companies were involved in nuclear weapon or ballistic missile activities.
Apart from Ri and Hwang, the people sanctioned were Namchongang director Yun Ho-jin, Ri Hong-sop, former director of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear research centre, and Han Yu-ro, director of Korea Ryongaksan General Trading Corp.
Corman said the sanctions were “carefully targeted at only those entities and individuals responsible for the DPRK’s (North Korea’s) ballistic missiles, nuclear and other WMD-related programs.”
“They are intended to minimize any unintended humanitarian consequences on the people of the DPRK,” he said.
Editing by John O’Callaghan
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.