US Treasury Departments Targets Russian, Chinese Firms in North Korean Crackdown

The United States response to the DPRK’s test of the Hwasong missile aligns with recent United Nations resolutions against North Korea

The United States Treasury Department has targeted Russian and Chinese companies that do business with the North Korean government in violation of United Nations’ sanctions against the isolated East Asian regime that regularly threatens its regional neighbors with nuclear annihilation.

“As a result of today’s action, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of US persons or within the United States must be blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them,” the United States Treasury Department said in a statement.

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The sanctions target ten companies and six individuals believed to assist North Korea with its ballistic missile program.

Six Chinese companies, 2 Singapore based individuals, a Russian company and four Russian nationals were targeted by the US Treasury Department action.

These individuals and companies allegedly contribute in a significantly material way to a range of North Korean weapons programs and in helping the North Korean regime secure hard currency.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has aligned the sanctions with recent United Nations actions against the regime as part of Donald Trump’s policy of ratcheting up pressure on the communist regime which sees its weapons programs as its lifeline and only hope for a future.

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The more aggressive stance by the US President departs from the more somber approach taken by his predecessor Barack Obama. North Korea is now believed to be capable of miniaturizing a warhead but it is unclear if their program is at the delivery stage. While recent threats against Guam have demonstrated a new boldness on the part of the DPRK’s weapons claims, experts are divided as to whether the North actually has this capability.

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“Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs and isolating them from the American financial system,” US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.

Coal is a particularly important resource for the North Korean regime, and was a target of the US Treasury action launched today.

The move names 3 Chinese coal companies – Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Materials Co., Ltd. (“Zhicheng”), JinHou International Holding Co., Ltd. and Dandong Tianfu Trade Co., Ltd. These firms together imported half a billion US dollars worth of North Korean coal during the period 2013-2016 according to CNN.

Commenting on the links between Russian and Chinese businesses with North Korean weapons development programs, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said: “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…We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea and to deter this activity in the future.”

Kim Jong-un’s regime sees itself as pitted against a US-led world determined to destroy it. Its only salvation is through nuclear weapons. But this only goes so far to explain why the regime has so steadfastly held to its need for destructive capabilities to insure its survival.

China and Russia have condemned Pyongyang’s most recent test and this has quieted the regime somewhat in terms of its conducting further tests. But make no mistake, it does not see the US as a potential ally for future friend.

Many experts worry that no number of sanctions will deter the development of a weapon that may be a foregone conclusion, making engagement and dialogue all the more important in world of growing tensions and threats coupled with unimaginably destructive capabilities.

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