South Korea on Monday announced the imposition of new unilateral sanctions against North Korea in response to its nuclear and missile development programme, ahead of US President Donald Trump arrival in Seoul on Tuesday. The measure bans transactions with 18 North Koreans from five state-owned banking entities which have overseas operations and are allegedly linked to the regime’s weapons programmes, according to an official gazette. The sanctions entail a symbolic move since the transactions between the two neighbouring countries have already been blocked for years, reports Efe news. After arriving in Japan on Sunday, Trump again hardened the rhetoric with North Korea, warning that “no dictator, no regime and no nation should underestimate ever American resolve”. With this new measure, South Korea hopes to underline again the message from the current government of the liberal President Moon Jae-in, who stresses the need to toughen the punishments against the Kim Jong-un regime to force the North Korean leader to return to talks on denuclearization. The 18 individuals on this new South Korean list had been already included by the US government in a sanctions package approved in September in response to the nuclear test that Pyongyang carried out earlier that month.
Seoul and Washington’s gestures are in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2375, which was approved to punish North Korea for the aforementioned nuclear tests and is considered the strongest sanctions package against the Kim regime to date. Pyongyang’s repeated weapons tests, together with the US president’s belligerent rhetoric, have escalated tensions on the peninsula to some of the highest levels since the end of the Korean War (1950-1953).