Canada's Conservative government announced Thursday it was drafting tough new sanctions against North Korea in retaliation for sinking a South Korean warship earlier this year.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Canada is also downgrading its already limited diplomatic relations with the nuclear state. He said the sanctions will prohibit imports and exports to North Korea, with some humanitarian exceptions.
Earlier this year, Canada announced stiffer restrictions on trade, investment and other bilateral relations with the communist dictatorship and suspended high-level visits by its officials.
Those measures followed the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean navy ship, which killed 46 sailors.
Three experts from the Canadian navy joined the multinational team that investigated the incident, and concluded the warship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo.
"They went out deliberately and sank a South Korean ship with a torpedo," Cannon said. "We had three Canadian investigators (who) determined beyond any reasonable doubt that this was an act of aggression and therefore Canada is taking retaliatory measures."
Cannon said Canada's actions are important because they are based on a position of principle _ a common refrain from the Harper government following its historic failure to win a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council earlier this month.
Cannon said Canada does not want its action in any way to be seen as targeting the North Korean people, some of the poorest and most downtrodden in the world.
North Korea has recently reached out to its southern neighbor, calling for talks on the resumption of stalled tours to a resort inside North Korea. The two sides have also agreed to hold the first reunions in a year later this month for families divided by the Korean War.
Canada joins a host of countries that have levied sanctions against North Korea in an attempt to persuade the communist country to curb its nuclear ambitions. Last year, North Korea quit nuclear disarmament talks and later tested an atomic device that drew tightened U.N. sanctions.