North Korea

Hong Kong-based firm on expanded UN sanctions blacklist

Agent for arms dealer among six entities to have assets frozen under Security Council resolution

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2013, 5:48am

A Hong Kong-based company was among six North Korean entities named in a unanimous UN Security Council resolution to punish Pyongyang for last month's long-range rocket launch.

The action announced by the council on Tuesday was a compromise that expanded the list of North Korean entities on the UN's sanctions list, but stopped short of any tough new penalties.

The resolution added North Korea's space agency, a bank, four trading companies and four individuals to the UN list of entities subject to an assets freeze and travel ban.

The companies blacklisted include Leader (Hong Kong) International, Reuters reported, as well as the Bank of East Land, Korea Kumryong Trading, Tosong Technology Trading and Korea Ryonha Machinery Joint Venture.

Leader, based in Hong Kong, is an agent for Komid, a North Korean mining and trading company sanctioned in 2009 that is North Korea's main arms dealer, according to the resolution.

The latest sanctions against North Korea would have little impact on its nuclear and missile programme, despite the added clout of China's support, analysts said yesterday.

"The sanctions themselves amount to little more than a slap on the wrist," said Kim Yong- hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. "But the North is likely to be upset at China yielding to pressure from other members of the UN Security Council and accepting the resolution."

The US-proposed resolution, in reaction to North Korea's long-range rocket launch last month, included a threat of "significant action" should Pyongyang stage a nuclear test in the future.

Most analysts agreed that the real import of the latest sanctions lay in Beijing's backing, rather than the actual measures.

"Any kind of Chinese move is important," said Robert Kelly, professor of political science and diplomacy at Pusan National University.

"North Korea would collapse without Chinese support. So when China backs sanctions, even if they aren't that tough, it's significant," Kelly said.

Pyongyang reacted swiftly, denouncing the resolution and vowing to strengthen its nuclear and missile capabilities.

Its response is likely to fuel speculation that Pyongyang is preparing a third nuclear test, following its previous detonations in 2006 and 2009.

"The problem is that North Korea has far too much invested - financially and politically - in its nuclear programme to step back now," said Kelly.

After the announcement, China's UN ambassador, Li Baodong, said: "The policy of sanctions and resolutions alone does not work."

He called for an early resumption of six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue that have been held since 2003.

Pyongyang walked out of the negotiations in April 2009. "There will be no dialogue to discuss denuclearisation," its foreign ministry said yesterday.

Additional reporting by Reuters