South Korea, Japan unveil sanctions over alleged Russia-North Korea arms trade


  • World
  • Friday, 24 May 2024

FILE PHOTO: North Korean army soldiers, top, head to cross the Military Demarcation Line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to inspect the dismantled South Korean guard post as South Korean army soldiers watch in the central section of the inter-Korean border in Cheorwon, December 12, 2018. Ahn Young-joon/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) -South Korea and Japan announced on Friday a series of sanctions applied to individuals, organisations and ships related to Russia's alleged procurement of weapons from North Korea in breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Seoul's foreign ministry said sanctions had been slapped on seven North Korean individuals and two Russian vessels over weapons trade and other activities between Pyongyang and Moscow.

The Russian vessels had been carrying a large quantity of containers between Russia and North Korea transporting military supplies in a clear violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, the ministry said in a statement.

The United States and South Korea have accused North Korea of transferring weapons to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine. Moscow and Pyongyang have denied the accusations, but vowed last year to deepen military relations.

Japan also announced sanctions on 11 organisations and one individual including what it said were Russian groups involved in military cooperation to support Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Russia's procurement of arms from North Korea violates the relevant U.N. resolutions that completely prohibit the transfer of arms and related materials to and from North Korea," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told a news conference.

According to South Korea's foreign ministry, one North Korean individual representing a state-controlled company based in Syria held negotiations to promote arms trade with a Russian from the Wagner Group between 2022 and 2023. The ministry cited an annual report by the U.N. panel of experts monitoring the reclusive state.

Another individual at a company based in Russia was involved in bringing diesel from Russia into North Korea, the ministry said, accusing both individuals of breaching U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Five other North Koreans helped raise funds to support Pyongyang's development of nuclear and missile programmes by earning foreign currency as IT workers, South Korea's statement said.

Russia last month described South Korea's sanctions on Russian individuals and entities as an "unfriendly move" and warned it would respond in due course.

North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions for its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes since 2006, and those measures have been strengthened over the years.

Earlier this year, the U.N. panel of experts monitoring sanctions on North Korea failed to extend its mandate following a veto by Moscow, prompting the United States and its allies to seek alternatives.

(Reporting by Cynthia Kim and Hyunsu Yim in Seoul and Kaori Kaneko and by Mariko Katsumura in Tokyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Stephen Coates)

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