North Korea warns UK will 'pay the price' for imposing sanctions

11 July 2020, 16:47

The secretive state has warned Britain against the introduction of sanctions
The secretive state has warned Britain against the introduction of sanctions. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

North Korea has warned the UK will "pay the price" for imposing sanctions against two of its organisations that British officials say are involved in labour camps.

Britain announced the introduction of historic Magnitsky-style legislation on Monday that it said will hold the "very worst" human rights abusers in the world to account.

The new measures will prevent those involved in North Korea's gulags from entering the UK, channelling their money through its banks, or profiting from the British economy.

On Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab's list of proscribed groups is North Korea's Ministry of State Security Bureau 7 and the Ministry of People's Security Correctional Bureau.

Both are known for their involvement in forced labour, torture and murder in the secretive state's prison camps.

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It is the first time the UK has introduced such legislation and comes as the country leaves the European Union.

North Korean state media reportedly said that "the United Kingdom, a puppet of the US, committed a provocation" by introducing the sanctions.

"Britain's latest move is a flagrant political plot to jump on the bandwagon of the United States' inimical policy," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a statement carried on state media KCNA.

"We strongly condemn and reject the UK's daring to impose sanctions on the institutions responsible for our country's security as violent interference in domestic affairs."

Others prohibited from entering Britain are 25 Russians and 20 Saudis, while any assets owned by those will be frozen.

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Kim Jong-un has had a fractious relationship with the western world since coming to power in 2011
Kim Jong-un has had a fractious relationship with the western world since coming to power in 2011. Picture: PA

It comes after North Korea and the United States failed to agree on a compromise over the dictatorship's nuclear weapons programme or international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.

On Friday, Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, made a rare statement to say North Korea "won't be threatening the United States" as the country refused to take part in another summit.

She said another meeting with Washington would only be useful for the US at this point.

The KCNA state news agency said a summit would be unlikely this year but "a surprise thing may still happen."

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was "very hopeful" about resuming denuclearisation talks with Pyongyang and left open the chance of another summit between the two countries' leaders.

He said: "We're very hopeful that we can continue to have this conversation, whether that's at levels beneath the summit, or if it's appropriate and there is a useful activity to take place, to have senior leaders get back together as well.

"As for who and how, timing, I just don't want to talk about that today."