US blocks shipping entities it accuses of helping the DPRK to avoid UN sanctions

World Today

New moves were taken by the US Wednesday, to increase economic pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Washington is targeting companies it accuses of helping Pyongyang evade UN sanctions. It includes firms from Russia, China and Singapore. One Russian national is also on the list.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

American officials accused the Chinese company and the one in Singapore, a subsidiary of the Chinese firm,  of falsifying documents for things like alcohol, tobacco and cigarettes. In doing so, they said, the companies have helped the DPRK get around UN sanctions.

They’ve also accused the Russian firm – and one Russian individual – of providing port services on numerous occasions to DPRK-flagged ships. They said, on a least six occasions.

The U.S. Treasury Department said the DPRK relies on foreign firms to make its money. It said Pyongyang makes over $1 billion a year just from the cigarette trade alone, insisting it can’t do so without accomplices outside of its borders.

Washington has been pressing key players to enforce the UN-backed sanctions regime.

The U.S. Ambassador to the global body recently called out Moscow and Beijing, directly.  Nikki Haley said Russia and China were blocking efforts to hold violators to account. She urged them keep up the economic pressure campaign on the DPRK.

In a statement on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wrote that his department “will continue to implement existing sanctions on North Korea, and will take action to block and designate companies, ports, and vessels that facilitate illicit shipments and provide revenue streams to the DPRK.”

He also said there would be continued consequences for anyone who violates the sanctions, until  there’s a full, verified denuclearization of the DPRK. China said it is doing its part, and in the past, it has rejected claims that Chinese firms were complicit in any violations.