s korea missile flag 88.
(photo credit: AP)
South Korea made its first concrete move to enforce sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear test, as a defense report emerged saying the reclusive state has enough plutonium to make up to seven nuclear bombs.
South Korea's Unification Ministry said Thursday it would ban some Northern officials from traveling to South Korea, in line with a United Nations resolution passed in response to the North's October 9 nuclear test.
The ministry also urged Pyongyang to return to six-nation talks on its nuclear program, and dismissed warning that sanctions could cause a breakdown in inter-Korean relations.
"If North Korea is concerned about the future of Korean people, it should not aggravate the situation any more (and) return immediately to the six-party talks," the ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, a report by South Korea's Defense Ministry said the North may have extracted up to 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of plutonium, enough to make up to seven nuclear weapons.
The communist nation is also working to make a small, lightweight nuclear warhead that can be carried by a ballistic missile, according to the assessment report, which was released by opposition lawmaker Song Young-sun.
The assessment was made in a top military officials' meeting a day after the North's atomic detonation.
The North could also drop nuclear bombs with its Russian-made planes, the report said.
South Korea's travel ban on officials from the North marks its first real effort to enforce the UN sanctions resolution that also seeks to ban the North's weapons trade.
The resolution calls for all member countries to state how they plan to implement sanctions on the North within 30 days of its October 14 adoption. It also mandates intercepting ships believed to be carrying suspect material.
Along with the travel ban, Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok said Seoul will control transactions and remittances related to inter-Korean trade and investment with Northern officials, the South's Yonhap news agency reported.
It was unclear how tough the South will be in enforcing the restrictions. Seoul has hesitated in taking strong measures to support the sanctions, mindful of Pyongyang's massive armed forces poised at the border, its family and cultural ties with the North, and its wish to expand economic relations with its neighbor.
Still, Seoul's decision on sanctions is certain to be welcomed in Washington, where US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday urged South Korea to show "a strong commitment" to the international sanctions endorsed by the UN