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A group of tourists from North Korea arrived in the United States to attend a convention at the United Nations. They made a trip to Arizona to buy some technology-related items but faced problems at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. It seems they had purchased items that were banned under the present sanctions applicable to their country and the Department of Homeland Security had seized them. The tourists tried to take the items back when a scuffle broke out.

The facts of the case

Los Angeles Times reports that the delegates had come to participate in a convention. As per existing rules of the United States State Department, there is a restriction on travel out of New York.

This is applicable to U.N.-based diplomats from North Korea, apart from a few other countries like Syria and Iran. They do not have permission to travel more than 25 miles from New York unless they obtain prior approval from the authorities.

The North Korean official news service has categorized the incident as a case of “mugging” and has charged the US authorities of forcibly taking a diplomatic package. It seems there have been instances in the past when North Korean diplomats had used their diplomatic immunity to take away items like counterfeit currency and rhinoceros horns. However, in this case, Homeland Security has not released details about the items that were confiscated but has clarified that the North Koreans involved in the incident were not accredited members of North Korea's Mission to the U.N.

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As such, they were not entitled to diplomatic immunity. There was also no diplomatic protection assigned to the package.

Incidentally, items that fall under the purview of the present sanctions imposed on North Korea are in the categories of luxury goods or high-technology items and include medical equipment also.

Sanctions on North Korea

The UN has imposed sanctions on North Korea because of its activities related to the development of nuclear weapons and testing of its missiles. It has been repeatedly told to bring to an end all such activities but it remains adamant and continues to be defiant. It keeps threatening to launch an ICBM that will target the mainland of the United States.

It is obvious that sanctions have far-reaching implications for not only the administration and the government but also for the common man of the country concerned. The attitude of the leaders affects people down the line. There is no concrete list of each and every product covered under the ambit of the sanction but the list would indicate a general range of items and those who want to acquire such items would have to work out a suitable strategy to bypass the provisions of the sanction.