North Korea is facing new sanctions by the Biden administration’s first sanctions over weapons programs, following missile launches, including two since last week.
The sanctions targeted six North Koreans, one Russian and a Russian firm which according to Washington, were responsible for procuring goods for the programs from Russia and China.
The U.S. Treasury said the steps aimed to prevent the advancement of North Korea’s programs and at the same time, impede its attempts to proliferate weapon technologies.
The United States also wished for five of those individuals to be blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council, which would require consensus agreement by the body’s 15-member North Korea sanctions committee.
The administration of President Joe Biden has been unsuccessful in engaging Pyongyang in dialogue to persuade it to give up its nuclear bombs and missiles since taking office in January last year.
U.S. State Department spokesman, Ned Price said the United States remains committed to pursuing diplomacy with North Korea.
“What we have seen in recent days …only underscores our belief that if we are going to make progress, that we will need to engage in that dialogue,” he mentioned in a regular press briefing.
According to the Treasury Department, the sanctions against North Korea comes on the back of six North Korean ballistic missile launches since September last year, each of which violated U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Secretary in charge of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said the moves targeted North Korea’s “continued use of overseas representatives to illegally procure goods for weapons.”
Nelson in a statement said: “North Korea’s latest launches were further evidence that it continues to advance prohibited programs despite the international community’s calls for diplomacy and denuclearization.”
Furthermore, it noted that the State Department had selected Russia-based North Korean Choe Myong Hyon, Russian national Roman Anatolyevich Alar and the Russian firm Parsek LLC for “activities or transactions that have materially contributed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery.”
It continued to say Choe Myong Hyon, a Vladivostok-based representative of North Korea’s Second Academy of Natural Sciences (SANS), had worked to procure telecommunications-related equipment from Russia.
Four China-based North Korean representatives of SANS-subordinate organizations – Sim Kwang Sok, Kim Song Hun, Kang Chol Hak and Pyon Kwang Chol – and one other Russia-based North Korean, O Yong Ho, were also targeted.
Sim Kwang Sok, based in Dalian, had worked to procure steel alloys and Kim Song Hun, who was based in Shenyang, software and chemicals, Treasury said.
In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said between at least 2016 and 2021, O Yong Ho had worked with Parsek LLC and Alar, the firm’s director for development, to procure multiple goods with ballistic missile applications.
Rocket fuel mixtures
Blinken said Alar also provided O Yong Ho with instructions for creating solid rocket fuel mixtures.
“The procurement and supply relationship between O Yong Ho, Roman Anatolyevich Alar, and Parsek LLC is a key source of missile-applicable goods and technology for the DPRK’s missile program,” his statement said.
It also said O Yong Ho had worked to procure items including aramid fibre, stainless steel tubes and ball bearings from “third countries” it did not name.
North Korea’s U.N. mission, Russia and China’s embassies in Washington and the Russian firm did not respond to requests for comment.
North Korean media said leader Kim Jong Un observed the test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday, the second in less than a week after he vowed in a New Year speech to bolster the military with cutting-edge technology.
Tuesday’s (January 11, 2022) 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 U.N. states to fulfil sanctions obligations.
Resolutions from U.N’s meeting concluded to ban North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear tests and impose sanctions.
Anthony Ruggiero, a sanctions expert in the former Trump administration that failed to persuade Kim to roll back his nuclear program despite unprecedented engagement, called the new sanctions “a good start.”
However, he said the Biden administration had allowed a reversal of sanctions pressure, adding that “Biden needs to continue the designations to increase the pressure on the Kim regime.”