US to Revoke North Korea Sanctions to Aid the Country’s Fight Against Coronavirus

North Korea sanctions

Despite various warnings from the US, North Korea has continued the illicit practice of developing its nuclear weapons that has brought the country closer to sanctions. The North Korea sanctions imposed by the US have restricted the economic activities of the country, targeting a larger list of individuals and businesses than the UN sanctions. The larger aim was to obstruct its development of missile and nuclear technology.

Not only did the US sanction banks, companies, and individuals supporting North Korea, but also has fined companies for violating US export controls. Though it has lifted sanctions on various occasions in exchange for North Korea’s promise to freeze its nuclear program and dismantle parts of its facilities, there have been no improvements as the country consistently reneged on its pledges.

At a time, when the world powers continue to push for North Korea sanctions, the US is deeply concerned about the possible impact of a deadly coronavirus outbreak that has covered almost every country in the world. On Thursday, the State Department said that the US, with the help of international organizations, is prepared to facilitate efforts to stop the spread of the virus in North Korea.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the Red Cross called for an urgent exemption to North Korea sanctions that would allow a bank transfer to the IFRC country office in North Korea. The organization said the move was “essential as a life-saving intervention” and would help in preventing the spread of the unknown disease.

Speaking post Red Cross’ plea, the State Department spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus quoted, “We strongly support and encourage the work of U.S. and international aid and health organizations to counter and contain the spread of coronavirus in the DPRK.”

“The United States is ready and prepared to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organizations,” Ortagus added. Since, North Korea borders China, the parent country of coronavirus, there is an urgent need for personal protective gear and testing kits to prepare for a possible outbreak in the country. But with sanctions intact, North Korea has widely been barred to international trade and business interactions.

Even though the stalled US-North Korea denuclearization talks have renewed the disputed history of both the countries, the US is ready to facilitate the approval of assistance from the non-profit organizations, exempting some of North Korea sanctions. No new cases of the spread of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the country but the North Korean government is actively extending the quarantine period for people showing symptoms up to 30 days. Meanwhile, China has reported 5,090 new cases of the virus with nearly 121 new deaths in the past 24 hours. The widespread epidemic has also infected the doctors treating the patients, creating a havoc throughout the world, with people living in fear.   

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