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US and South Korea Prepare for Tensions with North Korea

South Korea added several North Korean groups and individuals to its sanctions list while US began Test Drills

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South Korea Imposes New Sanctions on North Korea

South Korea added several North Korean groups and individuals to its sanctions list Monday in a largely symbolic move that is part of efforts to cut off funding for the North's weapons programs.

The government said those added were 20 North Korean groups, including several banks and companies, and 12 individuals.

Seoul is among the first to respond to North Korea's 29 November missile launch with fresh sanctions.

While the move is largely symbolic because all transactions between the two Koreas have been banned for years, the government said it hopes its move will prompt the international community to do likewise.
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The measure will remind the international community of the risks of doing transactions with the groups and individuals.
Baek Tae-hyun, Spokesperson, South Korea Unification Ministry

The blacklist includes Rason International Commercial Bank and Korea Zinc Industrial Group. Individuals are North Korean officials who work for the country's banks or companies based in China, Russia, Vietnam and Namibia.

US President Donald Trump’s UN ambassador has been urging the world to cut trade and diplomatic ties with Pyongyang. 
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United States Starts Missile Tracking Drills With Japan and South Korea

The United States, Japan and South Korea will hold two days of missile tracking drills starting on Monday, Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force said, as tensions rise in the region over North Korea's fast-developing weapons programmes.

The United States and South Korea conducted large-scale military drills last week, which the North said made the outbreak of war “an established fact”.

North Korea has fired missiles over Japan as it pursues nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of UN sanctions and international condemnation. On 29 November, it test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile which it said was its most advanced yet, capable of reaching the mainland United States.

This week's exercises will be the sixth drills sharing information in tracking ballistic missiles among the three nations, the defence force said.

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It did not say whether the controversial THAAD system would be involved. The installation of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea has angered China, which fears its powerful radar could look deep into China and threaten its own security.

On Sunday, South Korea said it would impose new unilateral sanctions on 20 institutions and a dozen individuals in North Korea, barring any financial transactions between those sanctioned and any South Koreans.

This unilateral sanction will prevent illegal funds flowing to North Korea and contribute to reinforce international communities’ sanctions against North Korea.
South Korean Finance Ministry
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The move is largely symbolic as trade and financial exchanges between the two Koreas have been barred since May 2010 following the torpedoing of a South Korean warship, which the North denied.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said the ministry plans to include 730 million yen ($6.4 million) to help build a new missile interceptor system, the Aegis Ashore, in its next fiscal year budget request, public broadcaster NHK reported.

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea, Japan and the United States and says its weapons programmes are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in the South, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.
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(WIth inputs from AP and Reuters)

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