The United States is introducing new sanctions against North Korea due to the latest missile tests
The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed its first sanctions on North Korea’s weapons program following a series of North Korean missile launches, including two since last week.
The sanctions targeted six North Koreans, one Russian and one Russian company Washington said were responsible for procuring goods for the programs from Russia and China.
The US Treasury Secretary said the measures were aimed at both preventing the development of North Korea’s program and preventing its attempts to spread weapons technology.
The United States also suggested that five of these people should also be blacklisted by the UN Security Council, which would need the consent of the body’s 15-member Sanctions Committee for North Korea.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has tried unsuccessfully to bring Pyongyang into dialogue to persuade the country to give up its nuclear bombs and missiles since taking office in January last year.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was still determined to continue diplomacy with North Korea.
“What we have seen in recent days … only underscores our conviction that if we are to make progress, we will need to engage in that dialogue,” he said at a regular news briefing.
The Ministry of Finance said that the sanctions followed six North Korean ballistic missiles since September, each of which violated UN Security Council resolutions.
Undersecretary of State for Finance and Financial Intelligence Minister Brian Nelson said the measures focused on North Korea’s “continued use of foreign agents to illegally procure weapons.”
North Korea’s recent launches were “further evidence that the country continues to promote banned programs despite the international community’s demands for diplomacy and nuclear disarmament,” Nelson said in a statement.
It said the Foreign Ministry had designated Russian North Korean Choe Myong Hyon, Russian citizen Roman Anatolyevich Alar and Russian company Parsek LLC for “activities or transactions that have significantly contributed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their supplies.”
It said Choe Myong Hyon, a Vladivostok-based representative of North Korea’s Second Academy of Sciences (SANS), had been working to procure telecommunications-related equipment from Russia.
Four China-based North Korean representatives of SANS subordinate organizations – Sim Kwang Sok, Kim Song Hun, Kang Chol Hak and Pyon Kwang Chol – and another Russia-based North Korean, O Yong Ho, were also targeted.
Sim Kwang Sok, based in Dalian, had worked on procuring steel alloys and Kim Song Hun, based in Shenyang, software and chemicals, the finance ministry said.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that between at least 2016 and 2021, O Yong Ho had worked with Parsek LLC and Alar, the company’s development manager, to procure several goods with ballistic missile applications, including Kevlar wire, aramid fiber, flying oil, ball bearings. and precision milling machines.
Rocket fuel mixtures
Blinken said that Alar also provided O Yong Ho with instructions for creating solid rocket fuel mixtures.
“The purchasing and delivery relationship between O Yong Ho, Roman Anatolyevich Alar and Parsek LLC is a key source of missile-applicable goods and technology for North Korea’s missile program,” he said in a statement.
It also said that O Yong Ho had worked to procure objects including aramid fibers, stainless steel pipes and ball bearings from “third countries” which it did not name.
North Korea’s UN mission, Russia’s and China’s embassies in Washington and the Russian company did not respond to requests for comment.
North Korean media said that leader Kim Jong Un observed the test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday, the second in less than a week after he promised in a New Year’s speech to strengthen the military with state-of-the-art technology.
Tuesday’s test came hours after the US delegation to the UN, along with Albania, France, Ireland, Japan and the United Kingdom, condemned last week’s launch and called on UN states to comply with sanctions.
UN resolutions ban North Korean ballistic missiles and nuclear tests and impose sanctions.
Anthony Ruggiero, a sanctions expert in the former Trump administration who failed to persuade Kim to withdraw his nuclear program despite an unprecedented commitment, called the new sanctions “a good start.”
He said, however, that the Biden administration had allowed a reversal of the sanctions pressure, adding: “Biden must continue the appointments to increase the pressure on the Kim regime.”
Price did not answer the question why no Chinese individuals or entities were targeted, or specifically the question of whether China and Russia did enough to enforce sanctions, but stressed the importance of all UN states doing so, while adding:
“Of course we have not seen all that.”
Wednesday’s action freezes all US-related assets for the target and bans all dealings with them.