Clinton Announces New North Korea Sanctions

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The U.S. is imposing another round of sanctions against North Korea. The announcement came Wednesday as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with their counterparts in South Korea's capital, Seoul.


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Renee Montagne.


And Im Mary Louise Kelly.

The U.S. is imposing a new round of sanctions against North Korea. The announcement came today as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with their counterparts in South Korea's capital, Seoul. The new sanctions are part of an ongoing effort to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

NPR's Jackie Northam is in Seoul and she joins us now. Good morning, Jackie.

JACKIE NORTHAM: Good morning, Mary Louise.

KELLY: So give us some details. What do we know about this new round of sanctions?

NORTHAM: Well, Secretary Clinton said that the aim of these sanctions is to prevent the proliferation of North Korea's nuclear program, and really to limit any sort of illegal activity that will help fund that program. That means freezing the assets of any individual or entity thats involved in proliferation or the sale of nuclear material - so really going after the money.

They want to prevent the travel of anyone who's been seen as being involved with North Korea's weapons program. And the sanctions will also try to stop the abuse of what she said were diplomat privileges in order to carry out any of these illegal activities that will help them get money. And the U.S. is also going to try to press certain countries from buying or selling anything to North Korea that has to do with its weapons program.

KELLY: You know, the criticism thats often made about sanctions, including those that have been applied over the years against North Korea, is that it's the people that suffer, not the government, in the country.

Did Secretary Clinton talk about that?

NORTHAM: Well, she did address this, yes. She said that these sanctions were not against the people of North Korea, who she said had suffered too long because of what she called the misguided priorities of their government.

Clinton said all that could change if the North Korean government came in from the cold, stopped its provocative behavior and any of its threats towards its neighbors, and take what she called irreversible steps to denuclearize. And then she said sanctions will be lifted and energy and economic assistance would come flowing in.

But you know, she said later on that she saw nothing to believe that was going to happen, that the North was going to reverse its ways.

KELLY: We mentioned that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is there as well. I understand he's announced that the U.S. and South Korea will launch joint military maneuvers in the region.

Is that an attempt to put more pressure on North Korea then?

NORTHAM: Well, Secretary Gates said that indeed there were going to be joint war fighting exercises in the region in the next short while, and that they would take place in the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. And he said, both yesterday and today, that this should be seen as a signal of deterrence to North Korea.

And this is much in response to the attack on the South Korean warship back in March, where 46 South Korean sailors died in a torpedo attack. You know, a South Korean investigation said North Korea was to blame for that, although the government there denies that.

So these joint military exercises are going to take place over several months. And again, they're in response to that attack. They're going to focus on practicing submarine warfare techniques and interdicting cargo vessels. And, you know, this is really seen as a show of force against North Korea, although China has expressed its concern and its opposition over these military maneuvers.

KELLY: Jackie, before we let you go, having both Gates and Clinton there at the same time clearly underlines the strength of the relationship between the U.S. and South Korea. I understand that together they went to the demilitarized zone today. What happened?

NORTHAM: Well, they did. They went up to the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, and this is a really heavily-defended border that divides the Korean Peninsula. It was raining but they got a chance to look at the area. And they also went to a place called the Truth Village and they were in a building that literally straddles North and South Korea.

And while they were in there, North Korean soldiers were peering in the window at them and then talking on their walkie-talkies. So it was really quite an interesting moment.

KELLY: Okay. Thank you, Jackie.

NORTHAM: Thank you very much.

KELLY: That's NPR foreign affairs correspondent Jackie Northam. She is in Seoul, South Korea, traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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