US Imposes New Sanctions on North Korea

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Al Jazeera English

US Imposes New Sanctions on North Korea

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (front) and U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates (L) use binoculars to look at North Korea at a guard post near the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, 55 km (34 miles) north of Seoul, July 21, 2010. (REUTERS/Lee Chung-woo/Korea Pool)

The United States will impose new sanctions on
North Korea in a bid to stem its nuclear weapons ambitions, Hillary
Clinton, the US secretary of state, said.

Clinton said the measures were designed to stamp out illegal
money-making ventures used to fund the nuclear program.

"These measures are not directed at the people of
North Korea, who have suffered too long due to the misguided priorities
of their government,'' Clinton said after talks with defence and
military officials in South Korea on Wednesday.

"They are directed at the destabilizing, illicit, and provocative
policies pursued by that government,'' she said.

She said the sanctions would be aimed at the sale
or procurement of arms and related goods as well as the procurement of
luxury items.

The US will freeze assets as well as prevent some businesses and
individuals from traveling abroad, and collaborate with banks to stop
illegal financial transactions, Clinton said.

'Provocative behavior'

Clinton arrived in Seoul, the South Korean capital, on
Wednesday, with tensions between the North and South running high
following the recent sinking of a South Korean warship, which left 46
sailors dead.

"From the beginning of the [Barack] Obama administration, we have
made clear that there is a path open to the DPRK to achieve the
security and international respect it seeks,'' she said, referring to
North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of
Korea.

"North Korea can cease its provocative behavior, halt its threats
and belligerence towards its neighbors, take irreversible steps to
fulfill its denuclearization commitments and comply with international
law,'' Clinton said.

Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert based in
Seoul, told Al Jazeera that new sanctions were unlikely to have much
impact or significance in the North.

"They [the sanctions] were expected, especially when the UN Security
Council chose to have a very cautious approach to North Korea and did
not introduce new sanctions, it was only logical that America would do
something," he said.

"They [the sanctions] don't look impressive - very few countries sell
arms to North Korea and those who do are not likely to be influenced by
any decision made by the US.

"The idea to freeze assets of North Korea's elite has been tried
before. Their lifestyle could become difficult but I do not expect it to
change their policies."

Contrasting Koreas

Earlier,
during a visit to the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas,
Clinton was accompanied by Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, who
remarked on the contrast between the prosperous South and the
impoverished, communist North.

"In the
20 years since I last climbed that observation tower and looked out
across the DMZ, it's stunning how little has changed up there and yet
how much South Korea continues to grow and prosper," he said.

"The
North, by contrast, stagnates in isolation and deprivation."

Clinton
and Gates were visiting South Korea to underscore their support for
Seoul following the sinking of the Cheonan in March.

The
North has denied it is responsible for the incident and a United Nations
Security Council statement condemning the sinking did not name North
Korea as the culprit, apparently after Chinese pressure.

US officials have suggested that the apparent torpedo attack on the Cheonan
could herald further attacks on the South, but some analysts have said
this is unlikely given the situation in the North.

'Severe
problems'

Don Kirk, the Koreas correspondent for the Christian
Science Monitor
newspaper, told Al Jazeera that the claim that
North Korea's behavior may turn even more aggressive is overstated.

"I don't think North Korea is in a position to stage more attacks.
The country is facing severe economic problems, and also, China is
trying to hold North Korea in check," he said.

"I think that after these military exercises are held, the whole
direction will be towards six-party talks on its nuclear program."

The US has sent the 97,000-tonne aircraft carrier USS George
Washington to take part in drill set to begin on Sunday in the Sea of
Japan. 

The exercises will involve about 20 ships and 200
fixed-wing aircraft, according to military officials.

North Korea
has denounced the exercises as "very dangerous saber-rattling".

 Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies

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