The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control has announced sanctions against Russian companies and individuals, as well as their North Korean correspondents, for violations of sanctions.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated six entities and three individuals, and identified three entities, in response to North Korea’s ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and continued violations of United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions. Also today, the State Department updated the aliases for two previously designated entities. Today’s actions target North Korea’s military, nuclear, and WMD programs, its revenue from labor, coal, and minerals, as well as its overseas financial operations. As a result of today’s actions, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from doing business with them.
The sanctions against North Koreans are not terribly significant as their function is almost exclusively busting sanctions. But the Russian entities will be hit hard because this affects their ability to operate in Western Europe and in Asia.
“The United States will continue to target individuals and entities responsible for financing and supporting North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, and will continue to increase pressure on this hostile regime,” said John E. Smith, Director of OFAC, according to the press release.
The designations target a Russian individual and entities, including the Independent Petroleum Company (IPC), a company worth USD$4 billion, according to Bloomberg News.
“IPC is a Russian company that has signed a contract to provide oil to North Korea and reportedly has shipped over $1 million worth of petroleum products to North Korea,” the OFAC statement read.
“IPC also may have been involved in circumventing North Korean sanctions. OFAC also designated one of IPC’s subsidiaries, AO NNK-Primornefteproduct.”
NK News previously identified Primornefteproduct as a possible North Korea oil supplier in 2015.
A Russian national – Igor Aleksandrovich Michurin – and a Moscow-based company called Ardis-Bearings LLC, for which Michurin is listed as director, was also added to the list.
According to OFAC, Ardis-Bearings LLC supported the Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, sanctioned by the UN in 2009 for “being engaged in or providing support for, including through other illicit means, DPRK’s nuclear-related, other weapons of mass destruction-related and ballistic missile-related programmes.”
Last month Treasury hinted that it was going to ramp up the pressure on individuals and companies that facilitated North Korea evading sanctions. This is just a warning shot fired at large Chinese entities that are heavily enmeshed with North Korea’s sanctions-busting operations.