South Korea is declaring itself satisfied with the latest action by the U.N. Security Council against its arch-rival, North Korea, despite the fact that the number of North Korean companies added to a blacklist falls far short of the 40 that South Korea and others, including the United States, European Union and Japan, wanted.
Diplomats say China objected, adding all but a few to the list.
Spokeswoman Han Hye-jin at South Korea's Foreign Ministry tells reporters the three additional state companies now banned from international trade are major players in Pyongyang's programs involving development of weapons of mass destruction.
Han says South Korea is expecting the additional sanctions against North Korea to be implemented in a practical manner with the cooperation of all U.N. member states.
The action was taken by the world body following North Korea's April 13 launch of a multi-stage rocket. Two minutes after blast-off the rocket exploded, falling into the Yellow Sea. North Korea has said it was making a third attempt to launch a peaceful earth observation satellite.
There has been no reaction, so far, from North Korea to the enhanced sanctions by the 15-nation council.
The enhanced sanctions target three North Korean entities: Amroggang, Green Pine Associated and Korea Heungjin Trading.
The sanctions committee alleges Amroggang, related to a state bank, is involved in financing ballistic missile sales, while Green Pine is believed to be responsible for half of North Korea's exports of arms and related materiel. And the trading company is said to have procured equipment to be used in missile design activities.
The three entities have also been linked to Iran's ballistic missile program or its defense-related firms. Iran is under separate Security Council sanctions for its suspected nuclear program while North Korea has also been punished by the Council for its nuclear activities.
Nuclear and missile technology components were also added by the sanctions committee to a list of items North Korea is now banned from importing.
South Korean media quote a government “senior nuclear expert” here as saying this week that North Korea has thousands of professionals engaged in its atomic weapons development program and may have an arsenal of up to 13 nuclear warheads. The official is quoted as saying that based on Pyongyang's claim of having 2,000 centrifuges operating, the program would be capable of producing annually up to 40 kilograms of highly enriched uranium.
Analysts and the intelligence community speculate North Korea could use some of that uranium at any time to carry out its third attempted nuclear test. That assessment is based on recent satellite imagery showing tunneling work underway at the site where the North has carried out two previous tests.
North Korea has been warned by the international community it faces even more sanctions if it attempts another nuclear test.