North Korea took aim at the May 24 sanctions, a set of trade and economic restrictions put in place after the sinking a ROK navy vessel in 2010, in a strongly worded article published yesterday by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
According to the article, the DPRK’s powerful National Defence Commission (NDC) issued a statement clarifying its stance on the South Korean sanctions.
“But the May 24 step remains a cancer-like entity, blocking the improved relations between the north and the south, spoiling the national concord and unity and escalating the confrontation and tension,” the KCNA article reads.
Former South Korea President Lee Myung-bak put the sanctions in place after the Cheonan sank, killing 46 of the crew.
An international investigation concluded a North Korean torpedo caused exploded near the ship – a charge the DPRK vigorously denies.
“The ‘May 24 step’ is a measure for confrontation that was fabricated under the pretext of the sinking of warship ‘Cheonan’. The step based on fabrication cannot but be a measure for confrontation,” the article continues.
The sanctions prohibit South Korean investment in the North, and banned North Korean ships from making use of southern waterways and ports, a measure the DPRK likely circumvents in other ways.
The KCNA article also claims the sanctions a barrier to dialogue, though the South Korean government says they only be lifted after the DPRK comes to the negotiating table.
“President Park stated at the New Year Press Conference that South and North Korean officials first need to resume dialogue in order to talk about issues and reach agreement” a Ministry of Unification official told NK News in January.
Scaling back or lifting the measures has also been called for from some South Korean quarters. Business owners with capital tied up in North Korean cooperation projects in January began protesting the sanctions, claiming they had caused more than 800 business to go bankrupt.
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