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(LEAD) S. Korea welcomes U.S. move to designate N.K. as 'primary money laundering concern'

All News 11:29 June 02, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more comments from 3rd para)

SEOUL, June 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Thursday welcomed the U.S.' move to designate North Korea as a "primary money laundering concern," saying that it indicates Washington's strong commitment to faithfully carry out the toughened sanctions on the communist country for its nuclear weapons program.

The foreign ministry vowed to keep working closely with the United States and the international community to seek sanctions and put pressure on the North to prod it to take a "genuine" step toward denuclearization.

"Our government highly praises the action in that it reflects the U.S.' firm commitment to faithfully carrying out the U.N. Security Council's 2270 resolution and also pursuing its own strong sanctions to induce denuclearization and tangible change," Cho June-hyuck, spokesperson for the ministry, told reporters.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Department designated North Korea as a primary money laundering concern, which is regarded as a powerful sanction designed to punish the regime for its nuclear and missile tests earlier this year.

This marked the first time that the U.S. has designated the North as such.

The designation calls for prohibiting U.S. financial institutions from opening or maintaining correspondent accounts with North Korean financial institutions, and prohibiting the use of U.S. correspondent accounts to process transactions for North Korean financial institutions.

It also prohibits the use of third-country banks' U.S. correspondent accounts to process transactions for North Korean financial institutions.

The measure is similar to the 2005 blacklisting of Banco Delta Asia (BDA), a bank in Macau.

"By designating the North itself this time, it has an impact of designating all North Korean banks as a primary money laundering concern. Compared to the BDA-style sanction that focuses on a single bank, we expect that it will have a more far-reaching effect," the spokesperson said.

"Our government will continue to step up sanctions and pursue coordination to put pressure on the North going forward by closely working together with the U.S. and the international community in a way that would induce the North to take a step toward the road for genuine denuclearization," he added.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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