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12 Mar, 2022 01:12

US sanctions Russians over North Korea

Washington has accused several Russian businessmen and companies of aiding Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear program
US sanctions Russians over North Korea

The US government has sanctioned several Russian entities and individuals for allegedly helping a North Korean operative to procure supplies for Pyongyang.

In a statement on Friday, the US Treasury Department announced that its Office of Foreign Assets Control had sanctioned two Russian citizens and three companies “for supporting the DPRK’s ongoing development of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs.”

The Department alleged that Russian company Apollon OOO and its director Aleksandr Andreyevich Gayevoy aided North Korea’s state-owned company Korea Ryonbong General Corporation and its representative Pak Kwang Hun in obtaining resources for the weapons programs.

The Treasury Department claimed that Pak Kwang Hun “acted under an alias and posed as an Apollon employee likely in order to deceive its suppliers of the true end-user of items he procured through the company.”

Two other Russian companies RK Briz OOO and Zeel – M Co. were also sanctioned on Friday, along with Zeel director Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Chasovnikov, for allegedly aiding the North Korean in “the purchase and transportation of a variety of items for other DPRK government organizations.”

Washington has not specified what items the Russian companies and their representatives allegedly sold to Pak.

As a result of the sanctions, the blacklisted individuals and their companies would not be able to do business or have property in the US. The assets that they might have in the US would also be frozen.

Brian E. Nelson, the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, claimed that “a network of Russia-based individuals and entities” were “complicit” in helping North Korea with the development of its “illegal” ballistic missile program. Pyongyang has insisted that it has the right to develop missiles and other advanced weaponry, arguing that the goal of the program was to deter the US and avoid a potential hostile takeover by Washington and its allies.

Pyongyang has ramped up its missile activity this year, testing various types of projectiles, including what it claimed to be hypersonic missiles and a “reconnaissance satellite” that could be able to track all US military movements in the region in “real time.”

The US and South Korea have accused Pyongyang of gearing up to resume the testing of long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles and nukes. On Friday, South Korea's military claimed that it had detected activity at a North Korean nuclear test, which has been inactive since 2018. Pyongyang itself has recently indicated it might lift a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests which has been in place since 2017.

It was not the first time the US has sanctioned Russia over North Korea. In January, The US Treasury Department sanctioned six North Koreans as well as one Russian national and a Russian company, accusing them of being involved in an effort to “to illegally procure goods” for North Korea’s weapons program.