Japan, South Korea join US-led sanctions against North Korea

Japan and South Korea have imposed new sanctions on North Korean individuals and entities in response to Pyongyang’s recent missile tests, a day after the US targeted North Korea with sanctions.

The US on Thursday froze any assets held by three North Korean officials in the United States. The US Treasury has threatened to ban anyone who deals with Jon Il Ho, Yu Jin and Kim Su Gil. US officials say the three are directly involved in North Korea’s weapons development.

The sanctions also freeze any US-based assets and bar dealings with these persons, but appear to be largely symbolic with no real impact on North Korea’s weapons and missiles development program.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement North Korea’s recent missile launches as well as the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland could pose serious security risks to the region and the entire world. Blinken said the sanctions were imposed in coordination with the US allies. He said the European Union had issued similar sanctions against these three people in April.

Tokyo and Seoul announced new sanctions against Pyongyang on Friday. South Korea said it will impose sanctions on eight people, including a Taiwanese and a Singaporean citizen. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement the people have helped North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

Japan said in response to Pyongyang’s “provocative acts” that it has frozen the assets of Korea Haegumgang Trading Corp and Lazarus Group, and an individual named Kim Su Il.

The United States has expressed disappointment that China, as North Korea’s closest ally, and Russia prevented the United Nations Security Council from imposing sanctions against Pyongyang.

Decades of US-led sanctions have failed to halt North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear weapon program, which Pyongyang says it needs to defend the nation against US aggression.

On November 18, North Korea conducted an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) test which the US claimed was counterproductive to Washington’s efforts to reduce tensions, insisting that Pyongyang should instead engage in diplomacy. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Washington was committed to using pressure and diplomacy to entice North Korea into giving up its nuclear arsenal.

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