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South Korea slaps new sanctions on Pyongyang in wake of nuclear test and rocket launch

Seoul has said it will sanction new individuals and organizations in response to Pyongyang's recent actions. The announcement comes a day after the US and South Korea began their largest military exercise in history.

South Korea said on Tuesday that it would ratchet up sanctions in response to Pyongyang's recent nuclear test and rocket launch.

The government announced it would add 40 individuals and 30 organizations to its sanctions list, making it illegal for South Koreans to conduct business with them. The government also requested that its citizens avoid North Korean businesses abroad, such as restaurants, which Seoul estimates make a profit of around $10 million (9.07 million euros) every year.

"Since North Korean facilities such as overseas restaurants are one of North Korea's channels for foreign currency, we ask the public to refrain from using these facilities," the government said in a statement.

Pyongyang lashes out

Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong Un has warned of a nuclear strike

The move comes a day after South Korea and the US began their largest joint military exercise ever. Nearly 320,000 South Korean and American troops are taking part in the exercise, which was designed to prepare both armies for a potential strike from the North. The exercise was expanded following Pyongyang's January 6 nuclear test and February rocket launch; it is expected to last through April.

North Korea threatened an "indiscriminate" nuclear strike on the peninsula following the launching of the exercise on Monday.

"The indiscriminate nuclear strike...will clearly show those keen on aggression and war, the military mettle of (North Korea)," a statement released by Pyongyang said.

Sanctions piles up

South Korean military

South Korea began its largest joint military drill with the US on Monday

Also in response to the recent nuclear test and rocket launch, the UN Security Council agreed to impose stricter sanctions on the North, which include the banning of weapon sales, travel bans and asset freezes.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's response to the new measures included firing six short range missiles into the sea last week and ordering his nuclear arsenal to be on immediate standby.

"At an extreme time when the Americans...are urging war and disaster on other countries and people, the only way to defend our sovereignty and right to live is to bolster our nuclear capability," Kim said.

blc/msh (AFP, AP)

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