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(3rd LD) S. Korea to blacklist N. Koreans, entities over nuke, missile programs

All Headlines 16:38 March 07, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more info in paras 2-11,15)

SEOUL, March 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will impose its own sanctions against North Korea including blacklisting North Koreans and entities suspected of being involved in the North's nuke and missile programs, government sources said Monday.

South Korea plans to announce its punitive measures against the North on Tuesday afternoon in response to North Korea's nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch last month, according to the Prime Minister's Office.

Seoul's envisioned sanctions may include blacklisting key North Korean officials and organizations involved in the development of weapons of mass destruction. This will mark the first time Seoul is taking such a step.

The planned measures would also bar these people and organizations from making financial transactions with South Korean banks and freeze their assets in the South.

Other measures that could be announced may bar the entry of vessels that have traveled through North Korea from entering South Korean waters.

The move is aimed at faithfully enforcing newly-imposed United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions, the toughest ones in more than two decades.

The resolution calls for mandatory inspections of all cargo going in and out of North Korea and a ban on the exports of mineral resources, a major source of hard currency for the cash-strapped country.

"The sanctions would include blacklisting scores of North Korean individuals and entities," said a government source.

Among those on the list is Hong Sung-mu, deputy director handling munitions in the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, who is believed to have spearheaded the North's Jan. 6 nuke test.

But the sanctions would not include blacklisting the North's powerful National Defense Commission or Hwang Pyong-so, director of the general political bureau of the Korean People's Army (KPA), according to the sources.

Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, would also not be on the list though she is believed to be handling the North's foreign currency funds.

"The measures may not have imminent practical effects as those on the list have neither assets in South Korea nor financial transactions with South Korean banks," said a source familiar with North Korean affairs. "But the sanctions would be effective in making the international community know that they are problematic."

Last month, Seoul carried out its toughest non-military sanctions yet by shutting down a joint industrial complex in the North's border city of Kaesong. The move was aimed at preventing money generated by the factory zone from being funneled into the North's nuke and missile programs.

Seoul's envisioned punitive actions will add to its existing sanctions imposed in May 2010 to punish the country for the sinking of a South Korean warship.

In February, Japan imposed its own fresh sanctions on North Korea by banning the entry of North Korea-flagged ships and vessels that have traveled via the North to Japanese ports.

If Seoul takes similar steps, there is a high possibility that a trilateral logistics project involving the two Koreas and Russia could be scrapped.

South Korea has already banned North Korean-flagged vessels from entering the South's ports or passing through South Korean territorial waters under the 2010 sanctions.

The so-called Rajin-Khasan logistics project calls for the shipment of Russian coal into South Korea through the North Korean port city of Rajin.

Seoul has suspended talks over whether to clinch a formal contract with Russia for the project since North Korea's long-range rocket launch, a move which outside experts view as a cover for a banned test of ballistic missile technology.

"The government is studying (whether to proceed with the project) after examining the goals of the latest U.N. sanctions and Seoul's envisioned punitive actions," Jeong Joon-hee, a spokesman at the Unification Ministry, told a regular press briefing.

Russia has claimed that the logistics project is not affected by the UNSC's new sanctions, stressing the need to push ahead with it.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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