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Seoul slaps sanctions on N. Korean firms for missile test

All Headlines 11:05 June 09, 2009

By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has imposed financial sanctions on three North Korean companies for a long-range rocket launch that Pyongyang conducted in April in defiance of repeated warnings by the international community, Seoul officials said Tuesday.

Under the sanctions, enforced as of June 1, the three North Korean firms are prohibited from doing any kind of business with South Korean companies and their assets here can be frozen, according to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

The three are Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, Tanchon Commercial Bank and Korea Ryongbong General Corporation, all of whom are suspected of having ties with the North's missile and nuclear programs.

The move is meant as a follow-up measure to similar sanctions brought against those firms by the United Nations on April 24, in the wake of Pyongyang's long-range rocket launch on April 5. North Korea insists the launch sent a satellite into orbit, but its neighbors say it was a cover for a missile test.

No South Korean companies currently maintain business relations with any of the three North Korean firms. None of the North Korean firms hold any assets in the South, either, the ministry said.

"We decided to follow suit from June after the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on the North Korean firms in April," a finance ministry official said. "There are no assets of theirs here and no South Korean firms doing business with them but we took the action as a precautionary measure."

This is the first time that South Korea has imposed financial sanctions on a North Korean company in relation to Pyongyang's ballistic activity, the ministry said.

The ministry said that it will consider taking additional measures if the U.N. comes up with separate actions against the North for conducting its second nuclear test on May 25.

Last week, South Korean Vice Finance Minister Hur Kyung-wook and Stewart Levey, Washington's under secretary of Treasury in charge of issues of terrorism and financing terrorism movements, met in Seoul and promised to cooperate and share information in tackling money laundering activities.


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