US slams N. Korean Office 39 for "illicit activity"

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New York, Aug 31 (ANI): United States has slammed Office 39, a shadowy party organization that raises hard currency to buy fine liquor, exotic food and luxury cars for cronies of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Under a new executive order, Washington reportedly intends to choke off the flow of luxury goods into North Korea, which Kim uses to buy the loyalty of the political elite, as well as the sale of conventional weapons by the North.

The Treasury Department also designated entities suspected of trafficking in nuclear technology, using existing authority.

"We need to send a signal to the North that provocative behaviour will not go unpunished. They are not directed at the people of North Korea, but at their leaders," The New York times quoted Robert J. Einhorn, the State Department's Special Adviser on Arms Control and Non-proliferation issues, as saying.

The US' move has come after Kim returned from a mysterious visit to China last week, during which he met with President Hu Jintao, ignoring former US President Jimmy Carter's visit to Pyongyang to win the release of a jailed American citizen.

In a letter to Congress on Monday, President Obama said the new sanctions were justified after North Korea's "unprovoked attack" in March on the South Korean warship, the Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors.

The Treasury Department has alleged that Office 39 is involved in met amphetamine distribution and the production of heroin and opium.

Critics say most of North Korea's luxury goods flow through China, which is unenthusiastic about the sanctions. Last year, American officials said Italy foiled an attempt to buy two Italian-made luxury yachts worth over 15 million dollars for Kim. (ANI)

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