Biden imposes first sanctions on North Korea’s weapons program after missile tests

By David Brunnstrom and Chris Gallagher

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed its first sanctions on North Korea’s weapons programs following a series of North Korean missile launches, including two since last week.

The sanctions targeted six North Koreans, one Russian and one Russian company, according to Washington, who were responsible for purchasing goods for the programs from Russia and China.

The US Treasury said the measures were aimed both at preventing the advancement of North Korea’s programs and at hampering its attempts to proliferate weapons technologies.

The United States has also proposed that five of these people also be blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council, which would require the consensual agreement of the 15-member North Korean sanctions committee.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has sought unsuccessfully to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang to persuade it to drop nuclear bombs and missiles since taking office in January last year.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States remains committed to continuing diplomacy with North Korea.

“What we have seen in recent days … only underscores our conviction that if we are to make progress, we will have to engage in this dialogue,” he said during a regular press briefing.

The Treasury Department said the sanctions followed six North Korean ballistic missile launches since September, each in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Under-Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said the measures targeted “North Korea’s continued use of foreign officials to illegally procure goods for weapons.”

North Korea’s latest launches were “further proof that it continues to push forward prohibited programs despite calls from the international community for diplomacy and denuclearization,” Nelson said in a statement.

He said the State Department had named Russia-based North Korean Choe Myong Hyon, Russian national Roman Anatolyevich Alar and the Russian company Parsek LLC for “activities or transactions which materially contributed to the proliferation of weapons from mass destruction or their vectors. “

He said Choe Myong Hyon, a Vladivostok-based representative of the Second North Korean Academy of Natural Sciences (SANS), had worked to purchase telecommunications-related equipment from Russia.

Four North Korean representatives based in China from organizations subordinate to SANS – Sim Kwang Sok, Kim Song Hun, Kang Chol Hak and Pyon Kwang Chol – and another North Korean based in Russia, O Yong Ho, were also targeted.

Dalian-based Sim Kwang Sok had worked to buy steel alloys, and Shenyang-based Kim Song Hun, software and chemicals, said the Treasury.

In a statement, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that between 2016 and 2021 at least, O Yong Ho worked with Parsek LLC and Alar, the company’s development manager, to procure several products with Ballistic missile applications including Kevlar yarn, aramid fiber, aviation oil, ball bearings and precision milling machines.

ROCKET FUEL MIXTURES

Blinken said Alar also provided O Yong Ho with instructions for creating solid rocket fuel mixtures.

“The sourcing and supply relationship between O Yong Ho, Roman Anatolyevich Alar and Parsek LLC is a key source of missile goods and technologies for the DPRK missile program,” the statement said.

He also said that O Yong Ho worked to procure items including aramid fiber, stainless steel tubing and ball bearings from “third countries” he did not name.

The North Korean mission to the UN, the Russian and Chinese embassies in Washington and the Russian firm did not respond to requests for comment.

North Korean media reported that leader Kim Jong Un observed the test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday, the second in less than a week after promising in a New Year’s speech to bolster the military with high-speed technology. point.

Tuesday’s test came hours after the U.S. mission to the United Nations, joined by Albania, France, Ireland, Japan and the United Kingdom, condemned last week’s launch and called on them UN states to fulfill their sanctions obligations.

UN resolutions ban testing of North Korean ballistic and nuclear missiles and impose sanctions.

Anthony Ruggiero, a sanctions expert from the former Trump administration who failed to persuade Kim to roll back his nuclear program despite an unprecedented commitment, called the new sanctions a “good start.”

However, he said the Biden administration had authorized a reversal of the sanctions pressure and added, “Biden must continue with the nominations to increase the pressure on the Kim regime.”

Price did not respond when asked why no Chinese individual or entity had been targeted, or more specifically when asked if China and Russia were doing enough to enforce the sanctions, but stressed the importance that all UN states do, while adding, “Obviously we haven’t seen all of this.

Wednesday’s actions freeze all US-related assets of the targeted individuals and prohibit any trading with them.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Chris Gallagher; Additional reporting by Simon Lewis and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Howard Goller and Grant McCool)

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