Seoul, Washington, Tokyo seek to ban N. Korea’s trade of fishing rights if provoked

SEOUL-- South Korea, the United States and Japan plan to push for a ban on North Korea's trade of fishing rights if it conducts a fresh nuclear or missile provocation, a diplomatic source said Wednesday.

The countries are currently reviewing a plan to craft new U.N. Security Council sanctions including prohibiting the communist country from selling its fishing rights and exporting its labor, in the event that it carries out another nuclear test or a test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to the source.

The measures, if enacted, are expected to further squeeze North Korea's foreign currency earnings, which are believed to be funneled into its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

After a trilateral meeting of the three countries' envoys on the North Korean nuclear issue in Tokyo on Tuesday, South Korea's Kim Hong-kyun said they agreed to take "unbearably strong punitive action" if the North goes ahead with a strategic military provocation amid signs that the North is preparing its sixth nuclear test or the first ICBM launch.

The trade of fishing rights with China and the dispatch of workers overseas are key foreign currency income sources for North Korea.

North Korea is believed to have sold to China the rights to fish in the waters along the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime demarcation between the two Koreas. North Korea reportedly earned US$75 million from the transaction with China.

Whether it would be possible remains to be seen, as adding the new measure to a UNSC resolution requires consent from China, the biggest ally of North Korea, as well as the dominant buyer of North Korean fishing rights and a permanent member of the UNSC.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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