US Imposes New Sanctions on North Korea

The Treasury Department slapped sanctions on nine entities, 16 individuals and six vessels that it says helps to finance or support the communist dictatorship's weapons development.

The sanctions are aimed at depriving North Korea of revenue for its nuclear weapons program and otherwise exerting pressure on the government in Pyongyang.

Increasingly, the administration has been turning its attention to the smuggling going on despite a round of United Nations sanctions.

South Korea's recent seizure of two ships suspected of being used for illegal oil sales to North Korea revealed a murky web of shell companies listed as their owners or managers, including some registered in Hong Kong.

The sanctions were announced shortly after Japan announced one of its spy planes had photographed a North Korean tanker that was likely to be violating sanctions by transferring cargo from one ship to another.

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The tankers were identified as North Korea's "Rye Song Gang No. 1" and Dominica's "Yuk Tung". Shortly after the sun rose on Saturday morning, the two ships sailed away from each other. A port entry ban was imposed on the vessel by the U.N. Security Council the following month for its involvement in transporting prohibited goods.

The six vessels were tied to the five North Korean shipping companies.

As a result of the Treasury's action, any property or interests of the designated persons in the U.S. will be blocked and transactions by Americans involving these persons are generally prohibited.

The step authorizes the United States government to block any assets held by individuals or firms in America and prohibits USA nationals from dealing with those actors. According to the Treasury, Ryonbong supports North Korea's military, helping it acquire chemicals, drilling equipment, hoses, metal, and machines.

Among the sanctioned nationals are seven representatives of the North Korean government conglomerate Ryonbong in several Chinese cities.

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Mandelker said she urged officials at her previous stop in Beijing to take action against North Koreans that the Treasury Department sanctioned in September for acting as representatives of the country's banks.

Two companies based in China - Beijing Chengxing Trading Co. Ltd., which exported more than $68 million worth of goods combined to North Korea and imported $19 million worth of goods from the country.

"Pursuant to U.N. Security Council Resolutions, the USA government is targeting illicit actors in China, Russia and elsewhere who are working on behalf of North Korean financial networks, and calling for their expulsion from the territories where they reside", Mnuchin said in a statement released Wednesday.

The ministry also said it appeared that the North Korean-flagged vessel, one of four additional vessels recently denied global port access by the United Nations for breaching sanctions, had disguised its name so that it read "Song Hae".

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