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(2nd LD) Park warns of stronger sanctions against N. Korea over possible provocation

All News 01:20 April 01, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout with comments by Park; CHANGES headline)
By Kim Kwang-tae

WASHINGTON, March 31 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye warned North Korea against staging another provocation as she met Thursday with U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

North Korea is under growing international pressure to drop its nuclear ambitions after it carried out its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and a long-range rocket launch on Feb. 7.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea that call for, among other things, the mandatory inspection of all cargo going into and out of the North, and a ban on the country's exports of coal and other mineral resources to cut off North Korea's access to hard currency.

"I warn once again that North Korea will face stronger sanctions and isolation if the North carries out another provocation," Park said at the trilateral summit, apparently referring to North Korea's possible nuclear test.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said his country will soon conduct "a nuclear warhead explosion test and a test-fire of several kinds of ballistic rockets able to carry nuclear warheads" in defiance of the U.N. sanctions.

South Korea believes the North could conduct a fifth nuclear test at any time.

Park said North Korea should recognize that it cannot survive unless it drops its nuclear program.

North Korea has repeatedly vowed to develop its economy and nuclear arsenal in tandem, a policy Seoul and Washington have said is a dead end for the country.

Park also vowed to strengthen efforts to help improve the dismal human rights situation in North Korea.

In December, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution for the second consecutive year that calls for referring the North to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

North Korea has long been accused of grave human rights abuses, ranging from holding political prisoners in concentration camps to committing torture and carrying out public executions.

Still, the North has denied any rights abuses, describing the accusations as a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.


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