U.S. President Barack Obama has slapped additional sanctions on North Korea aimed at choking off the regimes arms trade and illicit business taken by the government.
The sanctions are specifically targeted against Office 39 -- a secretive branch of the North Korean government that manages slush funds and raises money for the leadership, including by trafficking drugs.
These sanctions also targets North Korea’s infrastructure for importing and exporting conventional arms -- Green Pine Associated Corporation and its parent, the Reconnaissance General Bureau and the bureau’s commander, Lieutenant General Kim Yong Chol.
Other entities include two trading firms, Korea Taesong Trading Company and Korea Heungjin Trading Company, that allegedly act on behalf of North Korean arms dealer KOMID in deals involving Iran and Syria.
“The order gives the U.S. government new authority to go after the arms sales and goods procurement, money laundering, counterfeiting of currency and other illicit financial activities that enrich the highest echelons of the North Korean government while the North Korean people suffer,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey, said after Mr. Obama issued an executive order.
Noting that the world is well aware of North Korean government’s record of illicit activity and its belligerent behaviour, Mr. Levey said, the President decided that North Korea’s continued provocative actions -- such as its unprovoked attack on the South Korean naval ship Cheonan in March of this year which resulted in the ship’s sinking and the deaths of 46 sailors, its test of a nuclear device and missile launches in 2009, its violations of UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874, and its illicit and deceptive practises in international markets -- justify additional sanctions.
“The destructive course that North Korean government is charting is facilitated by a lifeline of cash generated through a range of illicit activities. North Korea’s government helps maintain its authority by placating privileged elites with money and perks, such as luxury goods like jewellery, luxury cars and yachts,” he said.
“Not only do these transactions contravene UN Security Council Resolution 1718, they are unconscionable in light of the fact that many of North Korea’s people live in dire poverty,” Mr. Levey said adding that the North Korean government receives millions of dollars every year from arms sales that are also outlawed by UN Security Council resolutions.
The North Korean government, he alleged, also benefits from illicit activities such as drug trafficking, counterfeiting of U.S. currency and selling counterfeit cigarettes.
“All of this activity makes up a crucial portion of the North Korean government’s revenues. These activities are carried out by a global financial network that generates this income and secures the luxury goods for the government of North Korea. That network is addressed directly by the President’s actions today,” Mr. Levey said.
Asserting that these measures are not directed at the people of North Korea, the Treasury official said the financial measures are aimed at disrupting its efforts to engage in illicit activities and its ability to surreptitiously move its money by deceiving banks and smuggling cash worldwide.
“By naming the individuals and entities involved in these activities, we will be excluding them from any access to the U.S. financial system, and at the same time we will be assisting responsible businesses and financial institutions around the world that are trying to protect themselves from illicit North Korean activities,” he said.