Administration Ramps Up Pressure on China, Russia Over North Korea
Treasury targets individuals involved in trade with rogue communist regime
The Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed a new round of sanctions aimed at punishing North Korea, targeting individuals and entities in China and Russia.
The new penalties cover 10 entities and six people deemed to have violated United Nations sanctions designed to stop North Korea’s program to develop weapons of mass destruction. U.S. officials described the actions as complementing new sanctions approved this month by the U.N. Security Council.
“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,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a prepared statement. “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.”
The sanctions target:
- Anyone who assists organizations that have been designated as supporting North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
- Anyone who deals in the energy trade with the regime.
- Anyone who facilitates the exportation of workers to other countries, which is an important revenue sources for the North Korean government.
- Anyone who enables sanctioned North Korean organizations to access the U.S. financial system.
Tuesday's move prohibits Americans or people in the United States from dealing with any of the designated individuals or organizations.
Robert Kaufman, a professor of public policy at Pepperdine University, praised the move.
"It's good news and significant for two reasons," he said.
Kaufman, who this year will be the visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy at Colorado University's Boulder campus, said the sanctions ratchet up pressure on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
"It also gives strategic and moral clarity to all this," he said. "The administration deserves some commendation for this."
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Tuesday that pressure must be maintained until the North Korean regime has demonstrated it will give up its nuclear program.
"It's not the time to discuss six-party talks," he said. "It's time to exert pressure."
"In the space of two days, he's really punctured this notion that the Pakistanis, Chinese and Russians are helping us."
The Treasury's Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted two Chinese companies and one Russian firm that have been helping North Korean entities working on the country's weapons programs.
The office also named several companies engaged in oil and coal trade. The coal trade generates more than $1 billion in revenue each year.
Other sanctioned entities include those doing business with Mansudae Overseas Projects Architectural and Technical Services Ltd., which exports North Korean workers; and Kim Tong-Chol and Qingdao Construction, a Namibia-based subsidiary of a Chinese company found to have contracted with Mansudae Overseas Projects Architectural and Technical Services Ltd. to take over four construction projects sponsored by the government of the African nation.
Kaufman said the sanctions move should be viewed in concert with President Donald Trump's speech Monday outlining his plan to reset U.S. policy in Afghanistan by ramping up pressure on Pakistan and promoting a wider role for India. That is a "two-fer," he said, because a strong India helps to counter China as well as Pakistan.
"In the space of two days, he's really punctured this notion that the Pakistanis, Chinese and Russians are helping us," he said.
Kaufman said more aggressive sanctions can disrupt and delay North Korea's drive to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking anywhere on the U.S. mainland. But he added that sanctions are unlikely to block North Korea's ambitions altogether.
"North Korea doesn't give a hoot about the suffering of its own population," he said. "Ultimately, sanctions have never convinced a regime like this to give up weapons."