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China to Sanction North Korean Officials Over Nuclear Tests

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China to Sanction North Korean Officials Over Nuclear Tests

July 14 — China agreed for the first time to punish senior North Korean government officials for defying United Nations resolutions barring nuclear and missile tests, China’s deputy ambassador said.

Ambassador Liu Zhenmin said his government would support imposing a travel ban and asset freeze on a “large percentage” of 15 North Korean officials proposed by the U.S. and other western nations as targets for UN sanctions.

Liu, in an interview yesterday, declined to identify the officials, other than to say they hold “senior” government positions and are working on nuclear and missile programs.

China’s acceptance of sanctions against North Korean officials and companies, as well as material that might contribute to the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, clears the way for Security Council action this week. Russia acquiesced last week, leaving the panel to await China’s decision. No government officials have been subject to the sanctions the Security Council adopted after North Korea’s nuclear test in 2006.

Ambassador Fazli Corman of Turkey, which chairs the Security Council committee charged with implementing the sanctions, said formal agreement by its 15 member governments would come within days.

Frozen Assets

The Security Council in April agreed to freeze the foreign assets of two North Korean companies and a bank and also said the government in Pyongyang was barred from acquiring items designated by the Missile Technology Control Regime, a coalition of 34 nations to curb proliferation of missile technology. It was the first time the 2006 sanctions had been enforced.

The Security Council last month adopted a resolution to punish North Korea for its May 25 nuclear bomb test and missile launches. The measure seeks to curb loans and money transfers to the communist nation and step up inspection of cargoes suspected of containing material that might contribute to the development of nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles.

The text, adopted unanimously on June 12, called for a Security Council committee to designate additional entities, goods and persons to be subject to the 2006 travel ban and asset freeze. The committee was given 30 days to agree on the new targets of the sanctions.

North Korea was condemned by the Security Council after the government in Pyongyang launched several missiles earlier this month in defiance of the UN resolutions. North Korea fired four short- or medium-range missiles on July 2 and seven on July 4.

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