US hits North Korea military, suppliers with economic sanctions
By TRACY WILKINSON | Tribune Washington Bureau | Published: June 1, 2017
WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — As it struggles for ways to thwart North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, the Trump administration Thursday slapped additional economic sanctions on Pyonyang’s military, coal suppliers and financial interests.
The Treasury Department said it was blacklisting six companies and three individuals for contributing to North Korea’s “development of weapons of mass destruction” and its continued violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The sanctions bar the companies and individuals from doing business with American citizens, and any assets they have in the United States or under U.S. control would be frozen.
The sanctions are mostly symbolic since it’s unlikely that the targeted companies or individuals have any such business dealings or U.S. assets. Previous sanctions have had little apparent effect.
The penalties come as the Trump administration seeks to block North Korea’s ability to build a nuclear weapon small enough to put atop a missile, and a ballistic missile powerful enough to deliver it to U.S. shores.
North Korea also has test-fired at least nine ballistic missiles so far this year, most recently on Monday. That missile flew 280 miles toward Japan before falling in the ocean.
The U.S. on Tuesday conducted its own test of a missile defense system, launching a rocket from California that officials said successfully hit and destroyed a target warhead fired from an atoll in the mid-Pacific.
The latest sanctions target North Korea’s army and Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, its revenue from mining coal and minerals, and several overseas financial operations, according to the Treasury statement.
Among the companies is Moscow-based Ardis-Bearings LLC and its director, Igor Aleksandrovich Michurin. It allegedly works with a North Korean trading company, Tangun, which the U.S. accuses of securing supplies for the nuclear program.
The order also blacklisted Korea Computer Center, a state-run technology research and development company that generates income for the government of Kim Jong Un, with reported overseas locations in Germany, China, India and the Middle East, Treasury said.
Other sanctions target North Korea’s revenue from mining as well as its energy and financial services industries.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006, including two last year. A sixth test was widely expected in April, but did not occur.
The Trump administration has labeled Pyonyang’s growing nuclear arsenal an “imminent threat” to the region and the United States.
President Donald Trump has called on China, North Korea’s main ally, to do more to stop its nuclear tests. China has blocked coal shipments and called for talks, but it is unclear how much influence Beijing has been able to exert on Pyongyang.