Address by Minister Cannon on Measures Against North Korea

No. 2010/85 - Ottawa, Ontario - October 28, 2010

Check Against Delivery

The sinking of the Republic of Korea’s naval vessel Cheonan, on March 26, 2010, took the lives of 46 South Korean naval personnel. Following the sinking, a multinational investigation—which included three Canadian naval experts—concluded that the vessel had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo.

After the release of the investigation results, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada would take steps to impose enhanced restrictions on trade, investment and other bilateral relations with North Korea.

Canada also used its G-8 presidency to raise concerns about the actions of North Korea. The G-8 leaders’ statement condemned the attack that led to the sinking of the Cheonan and demanded that North Korea refrain from attacking or threatening hostilities against South Korea.

G-8 leaders also called upon the international community to ensure the comprehensive enforcement of all existing UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to North Korea. They expressed the gravest concern that the nuclear test and missile activities carried out by North Korea have generated increased tension in the region and beyond, and that there continues to exist a clear threat to international peace and security.

On July 13, Canada added North Korea to the Area Control List.

Today, I would like to announce that the Government of Canada is implementing further measures that follow up on the commitment made by the Prime Minister of Canada.

In addition, and effective immediately, the Government of Canada is adopting a controlled engagement policy with North Korea.

Under this policy, official bilateral contact with the North Korean government will be limited to:

  • regional security concerns;
  • the human rights and humanitarian situation in North Korea;
  • inter-Korean relations; and
  • consular issues.

The controlled engagement policy will allow Canada to advocate key issues important to Canadian interests, including regional security, nuclear non-proliferation, the Six-Party Talks, human rights and inter-Korean relations.

All government-to-government cooperation and communication on topics not covered under the controlled engagement policy has now stopped.

This includes discussions on economic cooperation, cultural and university exchanges, and any other subjects the North Korean government may wish to raise.

Canada is drafting additional sanctions against North Korea that will soon be imposed under the Special Economic Measures Act. These tough new measures will prohibit imports from and exports to North Korea, with humanitarian exceptions.

These new measures will ban new investment in North Korea by Canadians and people living in Canada, prohibit the provision of Canadian financial services to North Korea, and prohibit the transfer of technology, including technical data, to North Korea.

North Korean-registered ships and aircraft will be prohibited from docking or landing in Canada or passing through Canada.

North Korea’s aggressive actions represent a grave threat to international security and are particularly troubling with regard to stability in Northeast Asia. North Korea must take tangible steps to improve its behaviour and comply with its obligations under international law.

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

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

Thank you.