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South Korea imposes first sanctions in five years on Pyongyang over recent missile launches

South Korea announced Friday that it has placed 15 North Korean individuals and 16 North Korean institutions on its ‘blacklist’, a move that constitutes the first unilateral sanctions in five years.

The South Korean government strongly condemns North Korea’s recent missile provocations with unprecedented frequency, assuming the use of tactical nuclear weapons against us,” a South Korean Foreign Ministry press release said.

In the statement, published on its website, the ministry specifies that “the 15 individuals designated as targets of sanctions belong to the Second Academy of Natural Sciences and the Wage Trade Association, which are subject to UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea”.

“On the other hand, 16 institutions subject to sanctions are involved in nuclear programs through research and development of weapons of mass destruction and procurement of materials; shipment of North Korean workers; smuggling of ships with minerals and crude oil, etc.,” the missive adds.

These institutions belong to the Ministry of Rockets, GENCO, a construction company under the External Construction Guidance Bureau, the National Maritime Inspection Bureau, the Crude Oil Industry Bureau, and numerous companies.

The ministry recalls that these sanctions by the Yoon Suk Yeol government against the Kim Yong Un regime is the first package since December 2017. “We hope that (these sanctions) will have the effect of raising awareness in the national and international community,” the text insists.

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The sanctions come as tensions in the region have risen after North Korea stepped up its ballistic missile launches in recent weeks, an attitude that raises concerns about a possible nuclear test.

Such tests are banned by UN Security Council resolutions. However, Pyongyang justifies its actions in response to the US-South Korean military maneuvers, which it considers an invasion rehearsal.

In the early hours of October 4, Pyongyang launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japanese territory to fall into the Pacific Ocean, outside Japanese airspace, an event that had not occurred since 2017.

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