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Envoy: UN Could Expand Ban on Luxury Goods to North Korea

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) gives field guidance during a visit to the construction site of the Paektusan Hero Youth Power Station near completion in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang.

The United Nations may consider expanding a ban on the flow of luxury goods and strategic materials into North Korea if Pyongyang fires a long-range rocket, a South Korean envoy said Thursday.

Recently, North Korea made a series of threats implying a long-range rocket launch and nuclear test. It indicated it could launch a long-range rocket to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers Party October 10. The communist country is expected to showcase its military might with a massive military parade.

Oh Joon, South Korea’s U.N. ambassador, warned North Korea’s action would trigger discussion by the United Nations Security Council of possible sanctions against Pyongyang.

“The existing measure bans the export of some luxury items and strategic materials to North Korea. The scope of the sanctions could be expanded,” said the envoy in an interview with VOA in New York, in reference to a resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council in response to North Korea’s third nuclear test in February 2013.

The U.N. resolution prohibits the transfer of luxury goods, such as yachts, racing cars and luxury automobiles to North Korea. The measure also bans the transfer of any items that could contribute to nuclear and missile development to the country.

Oh’s comments appear to suggest that additional sanctions against Pyongyang by the U.N. body are likely to target North Korea’s ruling elite.

This week, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said sanctions against Pyongyang “seek to impose consequences on the DPRK regime, not on the North Korean people.”

The South Korean diplomat said Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent warning against tension raising actions on the Korean peninsula was intended as a warning to North Korea. He added it’s worth noticing the Chinese leader explicitly expressed such a position in Washington.

“I don’t believe it is Beijing’s intention to damage the fundamental relationship with Pyongyang. However, I expect Beijing to continue to play a role in keeping Pyongyang from taking provocative actions, such as development of missiles or nuclear weapons,” the envoy said.

On Wednesday, Hyun Hak Bong, North Korea’s ambassador to Britain, dismissed international criticism of his country’s plan to conduct a long-range rocket, calling it “the legitimate right of a sovereign state to develop a space program.”

U.N. Security Council resolutions ban Pyongyang from conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology.