US Treasury Department Slaps Sanctions on North Korean Shipping Firms

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RUNG RA 2 (Image Courtesy: Marine Traffic)

The Trump administration intensified pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to disband his nuclear weapons program by imposing another round of sanctions, this time, on one Chinese businessman and several North Korean shipping and trading companies and vessels.

“As North Korea continues to threaten international peace and security, we are steadfast in our determination to maximise economic pressure to isolate it from outside sources of trade and revenue while exposing its evasive tactics,” said Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin in a statement.

In total, Tuesday’s action targets one individual, 13 companies and 20 vessels that have engaged in trade worth hundreds of millions of dollars with North Korea. Treasury said that a number of persons targeted in the announcement, operate in the North Korean transportation industry or import or export goods to the country.

North Korea is known to employ deceptive shipping practices, including ship-to-ship transfers, according to the Treasury Department. Three Chinese trading companies exported roughly USD 650 million in goods to North Korea and imported more than USD 100 million. The products included notebook computers, coal and iron.

Another Chinese firm, Dandong Dongyuan Industrial, exported more than USD 28 million in motor vehicles, electrical machinery and other items associated with nuclear reactors to North Korea over several years.

The sanctions also target third-country persons with long-standing commercial ties to North Korea, as well as the transportation networks that facilitate North Korea’s revenue generation and operations, the statement from the Treasury added.

Specifically, US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated six North Korean shipping and trading companies and blocked 20 of their vessels, all of which are DPRK-flagged.

These include –

Korea Rungrado Shipping Company and its vessels Pu Hung 1, Rung Ra Do, and Yang Gak Do;

Korea Rungrado Ryongak Trading and its vessels Rung Ra 1 and Rung Ra 2;

Yusong Shipping Company and its vessels Won San 2, Za Ryok 2, 7-28, Yu Song 12, and Yu Song 7;

Dawn Marine Management Co. Ltd and its vessels Jang Gyong, Kum Song 3, Kum Song 5, Kum Song 7, and Kum Un San 3;

Korea Daebong Shipping Company and its vessel Rak Rang; and

Korea Kumbyol Trading Company and its vessels Kang Song 1, Ku Bong Ryong, So Baek San, and Rye SONG Gang 1.

In September, Trump signed an executive order that would penalise any company or person doing business with North Korea by either cutting off their access to the U.S. financial system or freezing their assets, or potentially both.

Sea News, November 24