Minister Cannon Announces Policy to Limit Engagement with North Korea and Adoption of Special Economic Measures

(No. 347 - October 28, 2010 - noon ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced that Canada has adopted a controlled engagement policy toward North Korea and will also impose additional economic sanctions against the country under the Special Economic Measures Act. The new measures follow a commitment made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper after the sinking of the Republic of Korea’s naval vessel Cheonan, which took the lives of 46 sailors.

“Canada takes a principled stand against those who recklessly commit acts of aggression in violation of international law,” said Minister Cannon. “The adoption of a controlled engagement policy and the imposition of special economic measures send a clear message to the North Korean government that its aggressive actions will not be tolerated.”

Under the controlled engagement policy, official bilateral contact between the governments of Canada and North Korea will be limited to regional security concerns, the human rights and humanitarian situation in North Korea, inter-Korean relations and consular issues.

“North Korea’s aggressive actions represent a grave threat to international security and are particularly troubling with regard to stability in Northeast Asia,” said Minister Cannon. “North Korea must take tangible steps in improving its behaviour and complying with its obligations under international law.”

Once in place, the new economic sanctions will include a prohibition on imports from, and exports to, North Korea; humanitarian exceptions will apply. The measures also include a ban on new investment in North Korea by Canadians and people in Canada, as well as a prohibition on the provision of Canadian financial services and the transfer of technology, including technical data, to the country. North Korean-registered ships and aircraft will be prohibited from docking or landing in Canada or passing through Canada.

These sanctions are not intended to punish the North Korean people. The measures announced today are aimed directly at the Government of North Korea.

“Canada urges North Korea to seek a path that will lead to lasting peace and decreased tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to major improvements in the lives of North Korean citizens,” said Minister Cannon. “Canada is a vigorous defender of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law around the world.”

After the South Korean naval ship Cheonan sank on March 26, 2010, a multinational investigation—which included three Canadian naval experts—concluded that the vessel had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo. Prime Minister Harper subsequently announced that Canada would take steps to restrict trade, investment and other bilateral relations with North Korea; the measures announced today further realize that commitment.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Melissa Lantsman
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada