U.S. says sanctioned firms are fronts for North

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U.S. says sanctioned firms are fronts for North

The United States sanctioned two companies in China and Russia on Thursday for allegedly facilitating North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury also sanctioned a North Korean individual in the latest set of sanctions aimed at denuclearizing the regime.

Thursday’s action particularly targets the revenue earned for the Pyongyang government by North Korean IT workers overseas. China Silver Star, the U.S. Treasury Department said, is “nominally a Chinese IT company, but in reality ... managed and controlled by North Koreans.” The company’s CEO, Jong Song-hwa, and its Russia-based front company, Volasys Silver Star, were also sanctioned.

“These actions are intended to stop the flow of illicit revenue to North Korea from overseas information technology workers disguising their true identities and hiding behind front companies, aliases, and third-party nationals,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“Treasury is once again warning the IT industry, businesses and individuals across the globe to take precautions to ensure that they are not unwittingly employing North Korean workers for technology projects,” Mnuchin said, noting that the United States will continue to enforce sanctions until the “final, fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea.

The sanctions call for blocking any property or interests of the designated entities and Jong within the United States. Both companies are being sanctioned for their alleged involvement in exporting workers from North Korea.

Under a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council in December, UN member states are required to expel overseas North Korean workers within 24 months because of their contribution to the regime’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, China Silver Star is linked to North Korea’s Munitions Industry Department, which it said is responsible for overseeing the country’s ballistic missile program. It is also tied to the Korea Kuryonggang Trading Corporation, accused of being responsible for procuring commodities and technologies to support the North’s defense research and development programs.

As of the middle of this year, China Silver Star had earned millions of U.S. dollars through projects with companies based in China and other countries, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

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