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European Council widens sanctions against North Korea

11 August 2017

The decision to release pastor Lim comes just hours after a high-level Canadian delegation, led by the prime minister's national security adviser, had arrived in the country in the hope of intervening in his case, as Christian Today reported yesterday.

Lim, who served in one of the largest churches in Canada, had been sentenced to hard labor for life in December 2015 after North Korea accused him of attempting to overthrow the regime.

"Pastor Lim's health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the Government of Canada, and we are working to ensure that he receives any required medical attention".

The Globe and Mail reports that pastor Lim's church - Light Korean Presbyterian church in Mississauga, Ontario - was "ecstatic" at the news of his release.

North Korea's official news agency had announced Wednesday that the 62-year-old pastor and humanitarian worker who suffers from high blood pressure was released for health reasons.

"The Government of Canada was actively engaged on Mr. Lim's case at all levels", said Trudeau.

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While Lim and his family and friends are just relieved that he is now back in Canada, one can not ignore the timing of his release, as latest developments between North Korea and the United States have been at an all time low and getting extremely tense.

After intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests of missiles capable of reaching the United States mainland were carried out by North Korea last week, the UN imposed its "most stringent" restrictions so far with the intention of cutting almost $1bn out of the country's export revenue.

The church has taken on numerous humanitarian projects in North Korea, one of which prompted Lim's last trip there in January 2015.

North Korea has in the past attracted the attention of Washington and visits by high-profile Americans with the detention and release of USA citizens. He is of South Korean origin.

"If North Korea uses an intercontinental ballistic missile, from launch to impact (in Hawaii) is approximately 20 minutes", Lt. Col. Charles Anthony, director of public affairs for the state's Department of Defense, told CNN. "The standing committee collectively acknowledged the need for a stringent state of security in the region due to Pyongyang's recent continual provocations, and urged North Korea to immediately stop taking actions that are raising tensions".

In addition, in August 2011, Canada imposed economic sanctions against North Korea under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA).

European Council widens sanctions against North Korea