U.S. imposes sanctions on North Koreans, Russian, after missile tests

A missile is launched in what state media reports as a hypersonic missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea on January 11, 2022, in this photo released on January 12, 2022 by the news agency Korean Central North Korea (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS

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WASHINGTON, Jan.12 (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on six North Koreans, a Russian and a Russian company who it said were responsible for purchasing goods from Russia and China for North Korea’s weapons programs, an action following a spate of North Korean missile fire, including two since last week.

The US Treasury said the measures were aimed at preventing the advancement of North Korea’s weapons programs and hampering its attempts to proliferate weapons technologies.

The sanctions were the first aimed specifically at North Korea’s weapons programs imposed by the Biden administration, which has sought unsuccessfully to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang to persuade it to abandon its nuclear bombs and missiles.

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US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington remains committed to continuing diplomacy with North Korea.

“What we have seen in recent days (…) only underlines our conviction that if we want to progress, we will have to engage in this dialogue”, he declared during a regular press briefing.

The Treasury Department said the sanctions followed six North Korean ballistic missile launches since September, each in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Under-Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said the measures targeted “North Korea’s continued use of foreign officials to illegally procure goods for weapons.”

North Korea’s latest launches were “further proof that it continues to push forward prohibited programs despite calls from the international community for diplomacy and denuclearization,” Nelson said in a statement.

He said the State Department had appointed Russia-based North Korean Choe Myong Hyon, Russian national Roman Anatolyevich Alara and Russian company Parsek LLC for “activities or transactions that materially contributed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their delivery systems “. “

He said Choe Myong Hyon, a Vladivostok-based representative of the Second North Korean Academy of Natural Sciences (SANS), had worked to purchase telecommunications-related equipment from Russia.

Four North Korean representatives based in China from organizations subordinate to SANS – Sim Kwang Sok, Kim Song Hun, Kang Chol Hak and Pyon Kwang Chol – and another North Korean, O Yong Ho, were also targeted.

Dalian-based Sim Kwang Sok had worked to buy steel alloys and Shenyang-based Kim Song Hun had software and chemicals, the Treasury said.

The North Korean mission to the UN, the Russian and Chinese embassies in Washington and the Russian firm did not respond to requests for comment.

North Korean media reported that leader Kim Jong Un observed the test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday, the second in less than a week after promising in a New Year’s speech to bolster the military with high-speed technology. point. Read more

Tuesday’s test came hours after the U.S. mission to the United Nations, joined by Albania, France, Ireland, Japan and the United Kingdom, condemned last week’s launch and called on them UN states to fulfill their sanctions obligations. Read more

UN resolutions ban testing of North Korean ballistic and nuclear missiles and impose sanctions.

Anthony Ruggiero, a sanctions expert in the former Trump administration who failed to persuade Kim to roll back his nuclear program despite an unprecedented commitment, called the new sanctions a “good start.”

However, he said the Biden administration had authorized a reversal of the sanctions pressure and added, “Biden must continue with the nominations to increase the pressure on the Kim regime.”

Price did not respond when asked why no Chinese individual or entity had been targeted, or more specifically when asked if China and Russia were doing enough to enforce the sanctions, but stressed the importance that all UN states do, while adding, “Obviously, we didn’t see any of this.”

Wednesday’s actions freeze all US-related assets of the targeted individuals and prohibit any trading with them.

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Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Chris Gallagher; Additional reporting by Simon Lewis; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Howard Goller and Grant McCool

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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