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Tighter US sanctions against North Korea herald dangerous trend

May 06, 6:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The House of Representatives of the US Congress earlier voted for tighter sanctions against North Korea

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MOSCOW, May 6. /TASS/. Tighter sanctions against North Korea, should the United States eventually enforce such a decision, will herald a risky and undesirable trend for Russia, the director of the Russia’s Asian Strategy Center at the Academy of Sciences’ Economics Institute, Georgy Toloraya, said about the US Congress’s adoption of a bill in favor of more sanctions against Pyongyang.

"This is a risky and unpleasant trend," he told TASS. "Tighter restrictions will concern not just North Korea, to which legitimate sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council apply. They may be spread to any contacts and actions the United States may dislike for this or that reason. And there is no rights protection procedure."

Toloraya recalled that the United States had long hatched a plan for punishing with sanctions all those involved in cooperation with Pyongyang in some way.

"This idea is not new. It is for quite sometime that the Americans have mulled the possibility of so-called ‘secondary sanctions,’ in other words, sanctions against organizations and individuals that cooperate with North Korea. The Americans hope to gain a free hand to decide if such cooperation poses any risks or not," Toloraya said. "In other words, there will be much room for arbitrariness."

"On the one hand, the United States has the legitimate right to regulate its contacts with the companies it may not like, but on the other, this is crude arm twisting and pressure on partners, employed to make them observe US interests in the first place," he said.

Not only Russian ports are under threat of sanctions

Toloraya believes that "such a threat is real not only in relation to Russian ports, but also to Russian organizations and companies that may be involved in cooperation with North Korea or those the Americans may just suspect of being involved; the US often makes mistakes when it comes to sanctions."

"This may greatly hinder our relations with North Korea. Besides, it restricts Russia’s sovereign rights in conducting foreign political and foreign economic activity," Toloraya said.

He believes that the Russian authorities should try to avoid such a precedent in relations with the United States.

"Diplomatic channels must be used to express our disagreement with this sort of approach. Or else it would be enough to let just one such precedent be created to see such tactics snowball and be used not just in relation to North Korea but to all other cases in which the US may dislike something."

Toloraya pointed out that "the Americans would like Russia to stop using North Korean labor, this issue is likely remain on the agenda and get worse."

"Some sanctions may be taken first against companies involved in this, then individuals and local authorities, and eventually financial institutions, transport companies and airports," Toloraya said.

US bill on tighter sanctions against North Korea

The House of Representatives of the US Congress earlier voted for tighter sanctions against North Korea. This initiative is aimed against Pyongyang’s trading partners in the first place. In fact, the bill allows for mandatory inspections in the US territory of all cargoes carried by ships or cargo planes that before visited sea-or airports responsible for systematic violations of UN Security Council resolutions. All ships that during a previous period of 365 days entered North Korea’s territorial waters or airspace or are registered in countries with weak customs control will be under suspicion.

The bill says that 180 days after the act takes effect and then each year for a period of five years the US president will be obliged to present to the Congress’s appropriate committees a list of seaports’ and air hubs’ operators that had promoted import from or export to North Korea, thereby violating UN sanctions. The White House will be obliged to analyze the operation of a number of ports in China and Iran, Syria’s ports of Latakia and Tartus and also Russia’s ports of Nakhodka, Vanino and Vladivostok to check their compliance with restrictions on North Korea. If the bill takes effect, the US sanctions will be applicable to foreign nationals and organizations that use North Korean labor compelled to work abroad.

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