Politics

US Targets North Koreans in Russia, China for Aiding Pyongyang’s Weapons Development

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions Wednesday on five North Koreans it alleges are responsible for securing goods for Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

The sanctions, following six ballistic missile launches since last September, target North Korea’s “continued use of overseas representatives” to help produce its weapons, Brian Nelson, a Treasury terrorism and financial intelligence official, said in a statement.

He said North Korea’s “latest missile launches are further evidence that it continues to advance prohibited programs despite the international community’s calls for diplomacy and denuclearization.”

Treasury identified one of the individuals as a Russian-based North Korean named Choe Myong Hyon, who it alleges had procured telecommunications-related equipment for North Korean companies involved in weapons programs.

Treasury also sanctioned four China-based North Koreans. It accuses Sim Kwang Sok of working to buy steel alloys for Pyongyang, Kim Song Hun of procuring software and chemicals, Kang Chol Hak of buying goods for the North Korean headquarters from Chinese companies, and it cites Pyon Kwang Chol, the deputy representative of a suspected cover company for the North Korean Second Academy of Natural Sciences, which supports the country’s weapons programs.

In a related action, the U.S. State Department sanctioned North Korean O Yong Ho, Russian national Roman Anatolyevich Alar, and Russian entity Parsek, LLC, alleging they engaged in activities or transactions that have materially contributed to North Korea’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The sanctions block the individuals and Parsek from engaging in U.S. business transactions and impound any assets they may have, although the U.S. agencies did not identify any holdings they have in the United States.

Treasury also said anyone who engages in transactions with them, including foreign financial institutions, could open themselves up to sanctions.

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