On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a new round of sanctions against Chinese and Russian individuals and corporate entities for supporting North Korea’s nuclear bomb and missile programs.
The Treasury statement designates ten entities and six individuals for sanctions. In addition to providing financial and material support for North Korea’s nuclear missile ambitions, the sanctioned entities are accused of helping North Korea export its workers (in arrangements that often amount to slave labor) and enabling sanctioned North Korean entities to “access the U.S. and international financial systems.”
U.S. persons are “generally prohibited from dealing with” the sanctioned entities, and access to their property and interests within the United States will be blocked.
Among the targeted entities are the China-based Dandong Rich Earth Trading Company, which has purchased banned vanadium ore from North Korean interests, and Gefest-M LLC, a company directed by Russian national Ruben Kirakosyan, which has procured metals for a North Korean firm linked to its nuclear and missile programs.
Other entities were sanctioned for buying North Korean resources such as coal, which provides the outlaw regime in Pyongyang income to invest in its weapons programs. Three Chinese coal companies were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury for doing business with North Korea in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
“Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region. We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future,” Mnuchin said.
CNN notes that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has expressed guarded optimism that sanctions are beginning to have an effect on Pyongyang’s conduct. He said on Tuesday that, since there have been no provocative actions by North Korea since the U.N. Security Council imposed tough new sanctions in July, the Kim regime has “certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we have not seen in the past.”
Former Treasury Department Deputy Director Anthony Ruggiero told CNN that the Trump administration is “sending a message to curb its activities with North Korea by targeting Russian companies and individuals for facilitating North Korea’s proliferation activities and purchase of commodities subject to US sanctions.”
China appears to have gotten the message, and they do not like it one bit. China’s Foreign Ministry quickly demanded a withdrawal of the new Treasury Department sanctions, insisting the government in Beijing has fully complied with U.N. Security Council resolutions and is capable of punishing Chinese companies that disobey.
“China especially opposes any country conducting ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ over Chinese entities and individuals. Measures taken by the United States are not helpful in solving the problem and unhelpful to mutual trust and cooperation. We ask the United States to stop the relevant wrong practices immediately,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.