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NUKEWARS
Wal-Mart stops fish imports from NK-linked plant; NK operating some factories left by Seoul
by Staff Writers
New York (AFP) Oct 5, 2017


N. Korea says it is operating some factories left by Seoul
Seoul (AFP) Oct 6, 2017 - North Korea has started operating some Seoul-invested factories in its Kaesong industrial complex after South Korea pulled out of the joint venture, Pyongyang's online media said Friday.

The South suspended operations at the industrial complex in February last year, saying that money Pyongyang made from the venture was going towards its nuclear weapons programme.

An association representing the 120 South Korean firms operating factories in Kaesong, which lies just across the North Korean border, estimated the value of the assets left behind at 820 billion won ($663 million).

On Friday, North Korean media outlets confirmed joint-run factories were still running and that plants left by the South could no longer be considered their assets.

"No one can interfere with whatever we are doing in the industrial zone that lies within our sovereign territory," Uriminzokkiri, one of Pyongyang's propaganda outlets, wrote.

The article added that Pyongyang would freeze all facilities, products and materials left by the South and eventually control and manage them.

"No matter how fiercely the US and its cronies may attempt to intensify sanctions, they can never stop us moving forward and the plants in the industrial zone will churn out all the more actively," it said.

Another North Korean online propaganda site, Arirangmeari.com, said the plants left by the South had been forfeited.

"The dogs bark but the caravan goes on. No matter how desperately hostile forces may clamour, the plants in the Kaesong industrial zone will run all the more actively," it said.

The announcement followed news reports that North Korea has been using Seoul-invested facilities at 19 factories to produce clothes in Kaesong.

North Korea is subject to a multiple layers of international sanctions over its pursuit of nuclear and missile programmes.

In response to the announcement, an official at Seoul's unification ministry told Yonhap news agency: "North Korea must not infringe upon property rights of South Korean companies".

Wal-Mart said Thursday it no longer imports fish from a Chinese factory that employed North Koreans after a report said the US retailer may have inadvertently subsidized the nuclear-armed state.

Wal-Mart barred suppliers from using fish from a facility in Hunchun, one of several in the eastern Chinese city that were reported to employ North Korean laborers in slave-like conditions.

Wal-Mart gave the Hunchun facility a "red" rating after it did not cooperate with a company investigation into labor problems, said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Marilee McInnis.

"The welfare and dignity of workers is very important to us, and we are working in several ways to help combat the use of forced labor in global supply chains," McInnis said in an email.

"We have a system in place to assess suppliers' disclosed factories for compliance with our standards and take appropriate action when we do identify issues that need to be addressed."

"Combatting forced labor is a complex problem that no one company, industry, or government can tackle alone," she said, adding Wal-Mart was working with industry groups, governments, other retailers and NGOs to "create lasting, sustainable change."

Conditions under which North Korean laborers work at the plant were uncovered in an investigation by the Associated Press.

German supermarket chain Aldi, which the article said also has imported seafood from Hunchun factories employing North Koreans, did not respond to questions from AFP.

American companies and companies that operate in the US are barred from doing business with North Korea or with people from the country

AP said Hunchun was part of a broader effort by Pyongyang to disperse tens of thousands of workers around the world in various industries, bringing in an estimated $200 to $500 million annually and bolstering North Korea's nuclear program.

Shipping records showed that more than 100 cargo containers with more than 2,000 tons of salmon, snow crab and other fish were sent to the US and Canada from factories where North Koreans worked, AP said.

Workers at the plant are not allowed to leave the compounds without permission and have no access to telephones or email. As much as 70 percent of their pay is taken by the North Korean government, the article said.

In late September, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on eight North Korean banks and 26 executives, targeting North Koreans working as representatives of North Korean banks in China, Russia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.

The sanctions were the latest in a series of penalties by the US and the United Nations aimed at choking off Pyongyang's nuclear program.

NUKEWARS
Pentagon chief says US admin backs Tillerson's North Korea effort
Washington (AFP) Oct 4, 2017
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis tried to clear up doubts about the US administration's North Korea strategy Tuesday, backing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's effort to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff. Defense Secretary Mattis was speaking two days after President Donald Trump appeared to undermine his top diplomat by saying Tillerson was "wasting his time" by maintaining conta ... read more

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