U.S. slaps new sanctions on North

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U.S. slaps new sanctions on North

The U.S. Treasury Department announced fresh unilateral sanctions against North Korea Thursday in Washington, tackling key suppliers to the regime’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program and revenue from labor, coal and minerals.

The new measures came only a month after the Treasury Department’s last round of sanctions, when North Korean representatives in third countries and a coal company were targeted.

On Thursday, the Treasury Department sanctioned six companies and government institutions, including two Russian firms, and three individuals, including one Russian, in response to North Korea’s continued violation of UN Security Council sanctions, which ban the regime from pursuing missile and nuclear technology.

Among the six sanctioned entities were three North Korean government branches: the State Affairs Commission, the Korean People’s Army and the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces. The State Affairs Commission, which replaced the National Defense Commission last year, is known to be the North’s “supreme policy guidance organ” and is chaired by leader Kim Jong-un.

The Treasury Department said all three groups were found to have direct links to North Korea’s revenue from coal, metal and labor, as well as its energy and financial services industries.

Any property owned by the sanctioned groups or individuals that fall within U.S. jurisdiction are frozen. American citizens are prohibited from doing business with them as well.

Arids Bearings LLC, a Moscow-based company that provides supplies to UN- and U.S.-designated Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, was also put on the sanctions list, as well as its director Igor Aleksandrovich Michurin, who was identified as a “frequent business partner” of Tangun officials in Moscow.

The Korea Computer Center, a state-run IT research and development center that has overseas branches in Germany, China, Syria, India and the Middle East was sanctioned for generating cash for the North Korean leadership.

Russia’s Independent Petroleum Company was listed after signing a contract to provide oil to the North, and was assumed to have shipped over $1 million worth of petroleum products to the country.

Kim Su-kwang, an official of North Korea’s intelligence organization, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, was caught working undercover at a UN organization in Europe. Ri Song-hyok, a Beijing-based official for U.S.-designated Koryo Bank and Koryo Credit Development Bank, is suspected to have established a number of front companies on behalf of the regime.

In a starkly different approach however, the South Korean government on Friday approved eight new local groups to contact North Koreans for “humanitarian and religious purposes,” bringing the total number of groups it allows private contacts with the North to 10 since the launch of the Moon Jae-in administration.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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