Jun 25, 10:58 PM EDT

Seoul imposes sanctions on groups from Taiwan, Syria over links to North Korean arms trade


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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea on Friday imposed financial sanctions on seven individuals and organizations from Taiwan and Syria after they were linked to weapons trade with North Korea.

The list revealed by government officials included Taiwanese businessman Hsien Tai Tsai who was sentenced to 2 years in jail by a U.S. court in March for his involvement in the supply of weapons-manufacturing machinery to North Korea. Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center, a state-run institution that focuses on developing missiles, is also suspected of arms trade with North Korea, according to an official from Seoul's foreign ministry, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules.

Any South Korean who trades with these sanctioned individuals or organizations without permission can be jailed for up to three years or fined up to $268,000. South Korea imposes the same sanctions on 32 individuals and organizations sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council over arms trade with North Korea.

The two Koreas remain technically in a state of war, split along the world's most heavily fortified border, because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. Tensions between the countries have increased recently over the opening of a U.N. office in Seoul tasked with monitoring human rights in North Korea. The North has called the office a grave provocation.

North Korea's Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced two South Koreans to life in prison with labor after finding them guilty of spying for Seoul, a move analysts saw as retaliation against the opening of the U.N. office.

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