Trump administration plans to maintain economic pressure on NK regardless of inter-Korean talks
The US government under President Donald Trump has added nine Chinese and North Korean organizations and companies, 16 North Korean nationals and six vessels registered in North Korea to its independent sanctions blacklist on the grounds that they have violated the UN sanctions resolution against the North and aided the North’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Jan. 24 that the sanctions were aimed at individuals and organizations that aided the finances of the Kim Jong-un regime, North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction development program and other illegal programs. Any assets inside the US owned by these entities have been frozen, the OFAC said.
Two Chinese trading companies with headquarters in China were included on the list of sanctions, namely Beijing Chengxing Trading Co. and Dandong Jinxiang Trade. According to OFAC, Beijing Chengxing Trading Co. had sold about two tons of high purity metal to North Korea, while Dandong Jinxiang Trade had exported US$5 billion worth of used computers to the North.
The sanctions also target a number of North Korean shipping and trading companies, as well as an electronic firm known as Hana Electronics JVC, and North Korea’s Ministry of Crude Oil Industry. Six ships owned by North Korean shipping companies were also placed under sanctions, suggesting that the US government intends to shut down ship-to-ship transfer of crude oil and other goods on the ocean.
The designation of more targets for sanctions by the US government appears to be in line with Washington’s current position that it will keep up pressure on North Korea until the beginning of denuclearization talks, regardless of inter-Korean dialogue. Since there was no “secondary boycott” on Chinese financial institutions, the additions to the blacklist are not expected to provoke much blowback.
During high-level talks in Beijing this week, US Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker asked Chinese officials to deport North Korean agents working in China to raise funds for the North’s weapons programs, the Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 24.