United States To Ban Exports of Luxury Goods to North Korea

By Peggy B. Hu
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - The United States soon will implement the portion of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718 that bans the export of luxury goods to North Korea, according to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

In a statement issued November 29, Gutierrez said the United States is neither imposing a full trade embargo nor restricting essential items such as food and medicine.

"These measures are carefully considered and carefully targeted," he said.

"While North Korea's people starve and suffer, there is simply no excuse for the regime to be splurging on cognac and cigars," the commerce secretary said. "We will ban the export of these and other luxury goods that are purchased for no other reason than to benefit North Korea's governing elite."

Gutierrez said regulations to implement the luxury goods ban and other steps required by Resolution 1718 will be published in the Federal Register, the U.S. government’s official publication for administrative actions.

The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1718 on October 14, less than a week after North Korea reportedly tested a nuclear device. (See related article.)

The resolution bans trade with North Korea on all materials with direct or dual use applications for weapons of mass destruction and bans the sale or purchase of battle tanks, warships, armored combat aircraft, attack helicopters, missiles or missile systems.  It also prohibits nations from using their territories or allowing their nationals to provide North Korea technical training, advice, services or assistance on weapons of mass destruction and prohibits the sale of luxury goods to North Korea.

According to the Commerce Department, the United States already restricts exports to North Korea of dual-use items controlled for nonproliferation, national security and other reasons.

The resolution also calls upon North Korea "to return immediately to the Six-Party Talks without precondition."  North Korea said in late October that it would return to the talks with South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States, but the parties have not set a date.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill, the lead U.S. envoy for the talks, said November 30 that "the purpose of the Six-Party Talks is not to talk," but rather to eliminate nuclear development from the Korean Peninsula. (See related article.)

"There is no future for the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's formal name] as long as they are on this nuclear track," Hill said.  "They've got to get out of the nuclear business and back into the NPT," he said, referring to the country's 2003 decision to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

For more information on U.S. policy, see The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.