As tensions rise over North Korea, the U.S. Treasury this morning said it was slapping new sanctions on Chinese and Russian entities conducting oil, coal and banking business with Pyongyang, and propping up the country’s weapons program.
The sanctions target 16 Chinese and Russian individuals and companies, with the bulk targeting Chinese entities which have been buying and selling oil and coal with North Korea, or offering related banking services to facilitate these transactions.
“The Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
“It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region,” he said.
According to Politico, the sanctions target three Chinese companies believed to have imported some $500 million in North Korean coal and Russians who have been supplying Pyongyang with oil, among others.
The United Nations Security Council earlier in August voted to sanction North Korea, with Russia and China’s support.
Yesterday, Oilprice.com reported that steady oil supplies from China to North Korea continued to prop up Pyongyang.
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Beijing’s newest round of sanctions against Pyongyang apply only to oil and gas exports, not military supplies. Cheap North Korean workers still struggle in dimly-lit facilities to continue progress in weapons factories and related projects.
On Saturday, a Japanese news agency reported that North Korea had established coal exports to Southeast Asia in violation of UNSC sanctions. In February, North Korean coal imports by China were suspended. Pyongyang, however, has reportedly found a way around sanctions by marketing its coal in Malaysia and Vietnam and generating an alleged $270 million in revenues since February.
By Damir Kaletovic for Oilprice.com
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Damir Kaletovic is a veteran investigative journalist covering Europe and the Middle East, and a senior consultant for Divergente Research.