WASHINGTON - South Korea and Japan have imposed unilateral sanctions on their nuclear-armed neighbor, North Korea.
The announcement of the sanctions Friday followed Pyongyang’s promise to retaliate against new U.N. sanctions imposed earlier this week.
South Korea and Japan had sanctions in place against North Korea. The new sanctions, however, are mainly symbolic, because trade and exchange between the North and its two neighbors are largely nonexistent thanks to existing sanctions, especially those imposed by the United Nations.
But North Korea’s latest round of nuclear tests has prompted its neighbors to announce the new restrictions.
Seoul’s new sanctions ban two top aides to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: Choe Ryong Hae and Hwang Pyong So.
South Korea is also banning the entry of foreign missile and nuclear experts, if their visits to North Korea are deemed to be a threat to South Korea.
Japan said Friday it will not allow ships into the country that have called at ports in North Korea. Japan said it will also freeze the assets of groups and individuals associated with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to impose a new round of targeted economic sanctions against North Korea because of its September 9 nuclear test.
The sanctions take aim at sectors of the defiant nation’s economy that generate cash to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and could cost Pyongyang more than $800 million a year in lost funds, the equivalent of a quarter of its total export revenues.
The resolution focused its toughest action on Pyongyang’s coal export industry, which, according to global trade figures, is expected to generate more than $1 billion in revenue this year and is the country’s single largest source of external funds.
The resolution imposed a hard, binding cap that will cut the country’s coal exports by more than 60 percent; that could add up to some $700 million per year, experts said.