The EU will impose “stringent” new sanctions on North Korea, ramping up international pressure already brought to bear on the communist regime and its nuclear ambitions.
According to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg will back plans to sever the supply of money feeding Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missile development programmes.
The EU measures, reported by the Press Association, tighten up existing sanctions, and include a ban on exports of European oil and an extension of a ban on EU investment.
More North Korean officials and companies will be subject to travel bans and asset freezes.
The EU action follows sanctions announced by the U.N. last month, which came on the heels of increasing nuclear tests, missile tests and war-like rhetoric from the North Korean regime.
“North Korea continues to pose an unacceptable threat to the international community, which is why the UK, working closely with our European allies, has secured a set of stringent new sanctions upon the regime,” said Johnson, according to the Press Association.
“As I have said before, the North Korean regime must bear full responsibility for the measures that the international community is enacting against it, including these sanctions.
“Maximising diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea is the most effective way to pressure Pyongyang to halt its illegal and aggressive actions.”
The EU sanctions will include a review of banned luxury goods, and personal payments will be capped at €5,000 (£4,450), reduced from the current limit of €15,000 (£13,350).
Tougher restrictions will also be made on North Korean workers in the EU.
U.N. sanctions were passed on Sept. 11 in response to a sixth underground nuclear test by North Korea. They ban all natural gas sales to the North, limit the amount of oil that can be sold to the country, and ban its exports of textile products.
Those U.N. sanctions are already having an effect on the country, according to the state-run media in North Korea, which admitted on Sept. 29 that the sanctions are causing a “colossal amount of damage.”
Despite widespread poverty and starvation, the regime ploughs nearly one-quarter of its gross domestic product into the military, according to a US State Department report in 2016. (NATO members on average spend less than 2 percent of GDP on the military, with the US spending 3.6 percent)
A U.N. report states that 41 percent of people in North Korea are undernourished and 70 percent rely on food assistance. At least 1 million people have died from starvation and disease in North Korea over the past 10 years, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
A former guard at one of North Korea’s prison camps said in a witness testimony released by the U.S. State Department on Aug. 25 that many of those imprisoned are like “walking skeletons,” “dwarfs,” and “cripples in rags.”
In comparison, leader Kim lives a lavish lifestyle, dining on caviar and living in exclusive sanctuaries with swimming pools, beautiful gardens, and fountains, according to a former defector.
North Korean state media reported in September that its state nuclear programme was nearing completion.