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US, allies sanction Russia-based North Koreans over satellite launch

by Martin Fornusek December 1, 2023 10:11 AM 2 min read
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Amur region ahead of talks on Sept. 13, 2023. (Vladimir Smirnov/AFP via Getty Images)
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The U.S. and allied countries have sanctioned eight North Korean foreign-based individuals, including two residing in Russia, in response to a launch of Pyongyang's spy satellite, the U.S. Treasury Department announced on Nov. 30.

North Korea launched its first reconnaissance satellite on Nov. 21, supposedly designed to spy on the U.S. and South Korean militaries.

The new U.S. sanction measures carried out in coordination with Australia, Japan, and South Korea target North Korea's "ability to generate revenue, procure materiel, and gather intelligence that advances the development of its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) program and the unlawful export of arms."

The sanctions list includes So Myong, the chief representative of North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank in Russia's Vladivostok, who facilitated financial transfers on behalf of North Korean "financial institutions and weapons trading entities."

The measures also extend to Choe Un Hyok, a representative of the Korea United Development Bank in Russia, for carrying out multiple payments to an entity involved in Pyongyang's missiles program.

The U.S. and its allies have further sanctioned six other North Korean individuals residing in China, Iran, and other countries, as well as a cyber espionage group Kimsuky.

The U.S. and South Korea suspect Russia of aiding North Korea in the launch of its satellite in exchange for military supplies, which reportedly included over a million artillery shells and other arms.

Moscow and Pyongyang have been growing closer as Russia seeks to secure foreign support for its war on Ukraine.

Russia, China and North Korea have new dynamics. And it’s bad for Ukraine
The White House announced on Oct. 13 that North Korea had delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and ammunition to bolster Russia’s war against Ukraine. Washington published pictures tracking a set of containers as it traveled from Najin, North Korea, to Dunay, Russia, by a Russ…
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