New US Sanctions Target Chinese, North Korean Companies

November 22, 2017 19:43, Last Updated: November 25, 2017 16:49

The U.S. Treasury Department has put in place sanctions against Chinese and North Korean companies after President Donald Trump announced North Korea would be redesignated a state sponsor of terrorism.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned one individual, 13 entities, and 20 vessels on Nov. 21 in a bid to disrupt funding for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The sanctions target third-country persons with long-standing commercial ties to North Korea and transportation networks that facilitate North Korea’s trade.  

U.S. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin walks to a news conference at the White House Oct. 17, 2017, in Washington, DC. On Nov. 22, Mnuchin announced additional sanctions against several Chinese and North Korean companies. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“As North Korea continues to threaten international peace and security, we are steadfast in our determination to maximize economic pressure to isolate it from outside sources of trade and revenue while exposing its evasive tactics,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.  

“These designations include companies that have engaged in trade with North Korea cumulatively worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” he continued. “We are also sanctioning the shipping and transportation companies, and their vessels, that facilitate North Korea’s trade and its deceptive maneuvers.”

Eleven of the designations target people and entities importing from and exporting to North Korea. Others target people and entities exporting laborers from North Korea who work outside the country to generate revenue for the regime.

The sanctions prohibit U.S. companies from doing any business with the designated entities and individuals.

Several of the companies targeted are Chinese trading companies operating in the China-North Korea border city of Dandong.

A North Korean ship passes in front of the waterfront of the Chinese border city of Dandong (at rear), in China’s northeast Liaoning province, opposite the North Korean town of Sinuiju on Sept. 4, 2017. (GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

Among them are the Dandong Kehua Economy & Trade Co., Ltd.; Dandong Xianghe Trading Co., Ltd.; and Dandong Hongda Trade Co. Ltd.

“Between January 1, 2013, and August 31, 2017, these three companies cumulatively exported approximately $650 million worth of goods to North Korea and cumulatively imported more than $100 million worth of goods from North Korea,” reads a statement issued by the OFAC.

The goods in question include computers, coal, and other raw materials.

The OFAC also designated Sun Sidong and his company, Dandong Dongyuan Industrial Co., Ltd for exporting over $28 million worth of goods to North Korea over several years, including motor vehicles, electrical machinery, radio navigational items, and other items associated with nuclear reactors.  

“Dongyuan has also been associated with front companies for weapons of mass destruction-related North Korean organizations,” said the Treasury Department.

North Korean soldiers turn and look toward their leader Kim Jong Un from a military parade vehicle as they carry packs marked with the nuclear symbol during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea in this file photo. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Despite the fact that the sanctions target four Chinese companies, the State Department does not expect them to jeopardize Chinese cooperation with North Korea, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

“The world has come together behind this issue recognizing how destabilizing the activities are on the part of Kim Jong Un’s regime. We have a good relationship with China; that’s not going to change because we’ve made this designation,” said Heather Nauert in a press briefing Tuesday.

In response to an earlier question, Nauert said China recognized the problems North Korea was creating for them.

“I think that North Korea—and I imagine the Chinese would be very upfront in saying this as well—has become a bit of a thorn in their side.”

The OFAC also designated six North Korean shipping and trading companies and blocked 20 of their vessels.

Many of the companies use deceptive shipping practices to skirt U.N. sanctions, including prohibited ship-to-ship transfers.

The Treasury Department released photographs revealing such a transfer or what may have been oil between an unnamed ship and North Korean vessel Rye Song Gang 1.

These images taken on Oct. 19, 2017, depict an attempt by Korea Kumbyol Trading Company’s vessel RYE SONG GANG 1 to conduct a ship-to-ship transfer, possibly of oil, in an effort to evade sanctions. (U.S. Treasury Department)

The Treasury designated North Korea’s Korea South-South Cooperation Corporation for exporting workers from North Korea to generate revenue for the regime.

The company has exported workers to China, Russia, Cambodia, and Poland.

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