South Korea imposes sanctions linked to North’s weapons development

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea has sanctioned two individuals, three entities and 11 ships linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, its foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Faced with drawn-out gridlock at the United Nations, Seoul has turned to slapping sanctions on Pyongyang independently or together with Washington and Tokyo, seeking to squeeze its sources of funding.

Wednesday’s action came days after North Korea fired a new intermediate range, solid-fuel hypersonic missile, which South Korea and the United States condemned as a serious violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Pyongyang also broke with decades of cross-border policy, dismantling some government entities handling ties between the neighbours and declaring the South a separate, enemy state.

The newly blacklisted targets have chiefly been involved in illegal energy smuggling at sea, the South’s foreign ministry said.

On Wednesday, South Korea’s military said its navy had held three days of joint drills from Monday with Japanese and U.S. troops, along with the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, to improve their responses to North Korea’s threats.

The nuclear envoys of the three countries are set to hold talks in Seoul on Thursday, a day after talks between the South Korean and Japanese envoys.

They said they viewed military co-operation between North Korea and Russia as a serious threat to international stability, and vowed to further boost efforts to block North Korea’s access to materials and funds for nuclear and missile weapons.

The leader of the South’s main opposition Democratic Party, which has long pushed for reconciliation, criticised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for describing the South as the “primary foe”.

President Yoon Suk Yeol has called Pyongyang’s move a political act aimed at dividing the South, and warned that any North Korean provocation would prompt responses on a “multiplied scale”.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Hyunsu Yim, Heekyong Yang; Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez)