The United States on Tuesday slapped sanctions on 16 Chinese and Russian individuals and companies, accusing them of supporting North Korea’s nuclear program and attempting to evade US sanctions.
“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,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
The Treasury Department, which oversees US sanctions programs, said those targeted by the sanctions had helped people known to support the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, or had traded in North Korean energy, exploited its workers or acted as a conduit to the international financial system.
The move follows a war of words between Washington and Pyongyang over recent missile tests that show North Korea is capable of reaching the US mainland.
The sanctions effectively block their targets from accessing much of the global financial system, as well as freezing any US assets.
Among those hit by the sanctions was the Russian national Ruben Kirakosyan and his Moscow-based company Gefest-M LLC, which the Treasury Department accuses of procuring metals for a sanctions-barred company involved in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Korean Tangun Trading Corp.
Also targeted is China’s Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co. Ltd., which the United States says has acted on behalf of North Korea’s General Bureau of Atomic Energy — responsible for the North’s nuclear program — and has facilitated prohibited North Korean exports of vanadium ore, the department said.
A third company, Mingzheng International Trading Limited, which maintains offices in Hong Kong and on mainland China, was in fact a front for Foreign Trade Bank, North Korea’s main foreign exchange bank, the Treasury Department said.