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US Tightens The Noose, Blacklisting North Korean Companies, Spies, And Foreign Friends

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The U.S. has placed new sanctions on entities and individuals helping North Korea develop weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) blacklisted multiple entities and individuals Thursday for violating United Nations resolutions and contributing to North Korea’s WMD program. The U.S. is using sanctions and other measures to restrict the flow of funds and supplies into North Korea in an attempt to curb the country’s ballistic and nuclear ambitions. The actions taken Thursday by OFAC freeze all funds in the U.S. and prohibit cooperation with American entities.

OFAC called out the North Korean military, as well as North Korean companies and operatives. There were also a couple of foreign supporters on the list.

Among the blacklisted entities were two Russian companies — Ardis-Bearings LLC and Independent Petroleum Co. Treasury blacklisted Ardis and director Igor Aleksandrovich Michurin for conducting business with Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, a company involved in the development of North Korean ballistic missiles and nuclear weaponry.

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Independent Petroleum shipped over $1 million worth of petroleum products to North Korea. Treasury also sanctioned one of the company’s subsidiaries, AO NNK-Primornefteproduct.

OFAC also sanctioned North Korean entities, such as the Korea Zinc Industrial Group and the Korea Computer Center. One is a major North Korean company that brings in revenue for the regime through mineral exports, and the other is a state-run information technology research center which generates foreign currency for the North’s Munitions Industry Department, a division which oversees missile development.

Among the various individuals targeted by the latest batch of sanctions were Kim Su-Kwang, a spy with the Reconnaissance General Bureau who ran undercover operations at a United Nations organization in Europe.

The U.S. and other international partners have struggled to slow North Korea’s development of weaponry. The reclusive regime tested two nuclear weapons last year, and North Korea’s ballistic missile program is progressing at an accelerated pace. The North has launched a dozen missiles this year, and more tests are expected in the days ahead.

The recent sanctions are largely symbolic.

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