Trump Administration Blacklists 4 Russian Citizens, 1 Company Over North Korea

Trump Administration Blacklists 4 Russian Citizens, 1 Company Over North Korea

Trump Administration Blacklists 4 Russian Citizens, 1 Company Over North Korea

These latest sanctions target third-country companies and individuals that assist "already-designated persons who support North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs", the U.S. Treasury said.

In an online statement, the U.S. Treasury said it was targeting 10 entities and six individuals as a result of North Korea's "development of weapons of mass destruction, violations of United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and attempted evasion of U.S. sanctions".

OFAC said those sanctioned violated United Nations Security Council Resolutions and attempted to evade existing US penalties. The targets could be already known to support North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, they could be involved with North Korean energy trade, they could be involved with exporting North Korean workers or they could facilitate access to US and worldwide financial systems.

Among those hit by the sanctions was the Russian national Ruben Kirakosyan and his Moscow-based company Gefest-M LLC, which the Treasury Department accuses of procuring metals for a sanctions-barred company involved in North Korea's nuclear weapons program, Korean Tangun Trading Corp. Washington seeks to cut them off from the US financial system, which is especially important because most global transactions are conducted in USA dollars.

Top U.S. officials say they do not want to take military action against North Korea unless it is a last resort.

President Donald Trump earlier this month said he would respond to North Korea's nuclear threat with "fire and fury".

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"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", Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said in a statement on Tuesday. The measures prohibit USA citizens and companies from doing business with the sanctioned companies.

China is North Korea's neighbor and main trading partner and USA foreign policy experts say Chinese companies have long had a key role in financing Pyongyang. In response, North Korea vowed retaliation "a thousand times over", and its Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho declared it would never relinquish its ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

The targets include three Chinese coal companies the Treasury said are collectively responsible for importing almost half a billion dollars' worth of North Korean coal between 2013 and 2016.

In addition to the Treasury sanctions, the Justice Department filed suit against two of the companies, Velmur Management of Singapore and China's Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material Co., demanding that they forfeit more than $11 million that they allegedly money-laundered for North Korea. According to The Washington Post, most of those affected by the new sanctions trade coal, oil and mineral resources with North Korea or provide banking services to support those transactions.

In addition, three Chinese coal companies were sanctioned for importing almost $500 million of North Korean coal between 2013 and 2016.

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