U.S. sanctions target Chinese, Russians over North Korea

Pauline Gross
August 25, 2017

The United States is imposing new North Korea-related sanctions, targeting Chinese and Russian firms and individuals for supporting Pyongyang's weapons programs, USA officials announced on Tuesday, but stopped short of an anticipated focus on Chinese banks.

The sanctions target 10 entities and six individuals, including China-based Dandong Rich Earth Trading and Mingzheng International, which the U.S. government says have facilitated North Korea's access to the international financial system, as well as Gefest-M Llc and its director, Ruben Kirakosyan, in Moscow.

The UN sanctions were a response to twin tests last month of an intercontinental ballistic missile that may be able to reach parts of the U.S., heightening concern in Washington that North Korea could soon be able to threaten it with nuclear weapons.

US President Donald Trump signed into law a new batch of sanctions on Beijing, Tehran, and Moscow.

The actions include targeting major coal exporters that North Korea leader Kim Jong Un allegedly relies on to help fund his nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

The Treasury Department says the new round of sanctions complements those passed by the United Nations Security Council earlier this month.

"New sanctions should be part of a robust sanctions campaign that includes engaging those who continue business with North Korea and present a choice: continue that business or work with the United States - they can not do both", he told CNN.

Also sanctioned were Russian citizens Mikhail Pisklin, Andrei Serbin and Irina Huish for activities in the North Korean energy industry.

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The latest steps stopped short of targeting Chinese financial institutions dealing with North Korea, a step that would have greatly angered Beijing.

The Trump administration is still hoping China will pressure Pyongyang.

"We are taking actions consistent with United Nations sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future".

"However, there are missing elements".

The Chinese and Russians embassies in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

In June, the US Treasury sanctioned Bank of Dandong, Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co and two Chinese nationals for their alleged links to the North Korean government. "In addition, these Chinese networks likely have additional front companies operating on behalf of the network and those were not sanctioned".

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson commended North Korea for recent restraint in its provocations and said it could point the way to a possible dialogue with the US.

Richard Nephew of Columbia University said it appeared the USA government was "exploring what the tolerance is to the use of secondary sanctions".

Other reports by GizPress

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