S Korea welcomes US move to label North a money launderer

A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva October 2, 2014.
PHOTO: Reuters

SEOUL - South Korea welcomed Thursday the US decision to label North Korea a "global money laundering concern" -- a move that will further isolate Pyongyang from the global financial system.

The measure will prevent both direct and indirect North Korean financial activities within the US banking network, ensuring that any third-party deals involving significant sums of US dollars or other currencies cannot transit the United States.

"The government highly appreciates the action which reflects the firm US commitment to strongly pursuing its own separate sanctions" against North Korea, South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Washington led the drive for a UN Security Council resolution that imposed the harshest sanctions to date on North Korea following its fourth nuclear test in January.

As well as unprecedented inspections of all cargo to and from North Korea, the resolution called on UN members to terminate banking relations with Pyongyang.

Last week, the European Union also tightened sanctions on Pyongyang, blocking any trade finance activity and banning certain trade and investment with the country.

The foreign ministry statement said South Korea would "continue to step up sanctions and pressure against the North" to force it towards a path of denuclearisation.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday strongly condemned a recent series of attempted ballistic missile launches by North Korea and urged world governments to ramp up efforts to implement the recent sanctions resolution.