Friday, 23 March, 2018

USA imposes new sanctions over North Korea's nuke weapons program

Nellie Chapman | 25 January, 2018, 01:40

The United States slapped new sanctions on North Korean and Chinese firms and individuals that it said support the Pyongyang regime of Kim Jong-Un and his nuclear weapons program.


The Trump administration announced a new round of sanctions targeting North Korea's crude oil industry and shipping companies as well as individuals or entities in Russian Federation and China, two countries the US says needs to do more to rein in leader Kim Jong Un's weapons program.

A senior US official said this week that despite the Trump administration's recent public focus on Russia, China remained the main culprit in North Korea sanctions busting.

The United States has led an worldwide campaign to tighten sanctions on North Korea to force it to give up development of nuclear weapons and missiles capable of hitting the United States.

South Korea's recent seizure of two ships suspected of being used for illegal oil sales to North Korea revealed a murky web of shell companies listed as their owners or managers, including some registered in Hong Kong.

Five North Korean shipping companies and six vessels were also blacklisted, as the U.S. targets efforts by Pyongyang to obtain needed materials like oil and coal via ship to ship transfers from foreign vessels on the high seas.

Sixteen individuals were also targeted, including members of the ruling Workers Party of Korea, who conduct business in China, Russia and the region of Abkhazia, a partially recognized state south of Russia and northwest of Georgia.

It identified the North Korean tanker as the Rye Song Gang 1, one of the vessels denied global port access by the Security Council.

Also Wednesday, Japan's Foreign Ministry said a Japanese Navy surveillance aircraft spotted a sanctioned North Korean tanker four days ago carrying out what was thought to be an illicit offshore transfer in the East China Sea.

Mandelker said she urged officials at her previous stop in Beijing to take action against North Koreans that the Treasury Department sanctioned in September for acting as representatives of the country's banks.

Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo has said North Korea is "a handful of months" away from being able to make a nuclear attack on the United States.

"We have reported this to the U.N. and also given this information to other nations involved, including those connected to the Dominican tanker, expressing our concern", the ministry added.

"We had candid and blunt conversations about where we see the threats and what we think other countries need to do to work with us to aggressively enforce the sanctions", she said, suggesting the parties did not narrow their glaring differences over Pyongyang.