The U.S. Department of the Treasury dropped the hammer on Chinese and Russian companies and individuals that have been facilitating North Korea’s weapons programs.
The targets of new U.S. sanctions include 10 companies and six individuals that have allowed the North to develop nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them to distant targets from South Korea and Japan to the continental U.S.
The new sanctions “target third-country companies and individuals that assist already-designated persons who support North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, deal in the North Korean energy trade, facilitate its exportation of workers, and enable sanctioned North Korean entities to access the U.S. and international financial systems,” the Department of the Treasury said in a statement. The sanctions complement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2371, which followed North Korea’s second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile and stand to cut North Korean export revenues by roughly a third.
The new U.N. sanctions were heralded as the “strongest sanctions ever imposed” on North Korea. (RELATED: Trump Celebrates As UN Imposes ‘Stronger Sanctions Ever’ On North Korea)
“Treasury will continue to put 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,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “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.”
The new sanctions primarily targeted Chinese companies that buy and sell coal, oil, and other mineral resources, as well as financial institutions that provide banking and other related services. The sanctions also hit companies that employ North Korean labor, a source of funding for the regime.
This move angered Beijing, which has agreed to implement sanctions in accordance with the latest U.N. resolution but is extremely sensitive to American interference in Chinese affairs, even if U.S. laws apply given the connection between targeted entities and the U.S. financial system.
“China opposes unilateral sanctions out of the U.N. Security Council framework, especially the ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ over Chinese entities and individuals exercised by any country in accordance with its domestic laws,” a Chinese embassy spokesman said Tuesday, adding, “We strongly urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistake, so as not to impact bilateral cooperation on relevant issues.”
Targeting the pillars of the North Korean overseas trade and procurement networks has the potential to put tremendous pressure on the regime if executed effectively. (RELATED: Trump’s Got More Options On North Korea Than Most People Realize)
There are, however, concerns that North Korea’s weapons program has progressed to the point that sanctions will be unable to force the reclusive regime to change course.
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