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Resumption of Kaesong complex could spark row over U.N. sanctions violation

All Headlines 13:39 February 07, 2017

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- A resumption of the now-shuttered joint industrial complex could spark a row over the breaking of the latest U.N. sanctions resolutions against North Korea, a government official said Tuesday.

With the shutdown of the Kaesong Industrial Complex hitting the one year mark this week, whether to resume the factory zone is emerging as a key issue, particularly among presidential hopefuls.

Seoul's unification ministry said that North Korea's commitment to ending its nuclear and missile programs should be prioritized before talking about whether Seoul should reopen the complex in North Korea's border city of Kaesong.

"At a time when concerns about uses of money generated from the park are not dispelled, a possible resumption of the complex could spark a controversy that the move conflicts with the U.N. resolutions," a government official said.

This file photo taken on Aug. 8, 2016, shows the now-shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex, an inter-Korean industrial park located in North Korea's border city of Kaesong. (Yonhap)

On Feb. 10, 2016, South Korea suspended the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex in response to Pyongyang's nuclear test and long-range rocket launch early last year, ending the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation.

Seoul's decision was made on the suspicions that a large amount of the money given as wages to North Korean workers was being funneled to the country's ruling party to support Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

In the wake of the shutdown of the park, the United Nations Security Council imposed tough sanctions against North Korea in March and November in an effort to curb foreign currency flowing to the North's regime.

The ministry said that even if the complex is resumed, South Korea cannot operate the same way as it did previously as the U.N. sanctions are zeroing in on curbing financial transactions with North Korea.

"North Korea has not stopped developing its nuclear weapons program. Against this backdrop, the resumption of the complex means that we, a key party to North Korea's nuclear issue, will be seen as backpedaling on international efforts (to pressure North Korea)," the official said.

The government said that North Korea showing sincerity toward denuclearization will pave the way for the complex to be resumed.

"Even if the regime changes in South Korea, the re-opening of the complex would be difficult even if there is political will," the official said.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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