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US, South Korea announce joint sanctions targeting financers of North Korea's weapons program

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 28, 2024 8:52 AM 2 min read
A television news broadcast shows file footage of a North Korean missile test at a railway station in Seoul on March 9, 2023, after North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile. (Anthony Wallace / AFP via Getty Images)
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The U.S. and South Korea announced jointly coordinated sanctions on March 27 against six individuals and two entities involved in financing North Korea's weapons of mass destruction program. Two of the individuals named are North Korean nationals based in Russia.

North Korea has been shaping up to be Russia's leading weapons supplier, reportedly providing Moscow with extensive military packages, including ballistic missiles and over 3 million artillery shells.

There have also been concerns about what Russia may be providing North Korea in return for the shipments of military hardware and ammunition. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that Russia has been assisting North Korea in upgrading its military capabilities, potentially including ballistic missiles and nuclear technology.

Unnamed sources in Western intelligence also told the New York Times in February 2024 that Russia has likely helped North Korea unblock frozen funds and otherwise worked to connect the country with international financial institutions it has long been shut out of.

The Financial Times and other media outlets have reported that Russia may be defying sanctions to supply North Korea with oil, possibly in exchange for military equipment.

The new sanctions, announced by the U.S. Treasury Department, are designed to target actors abroad who help finance North Korea's weapons programs.

"Today's joint action reflects our commitment to disrupt (North Korea's) efforts to generate revenue for its illicit and destabilizing activities," said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson.

Two of the individuals sanctioned are North Korean nationals based in Russia who work for sanctioned banks that help generate revenue for the North Korean government.

The other four individuals and one entity are based in China and are reportedly involved in money laundering and the illegal financing of North Korea's weapons programs.

US, South Korea launch task force to combat illegal shipment of oil to North Korea
The two countries also said they were increasingly concerned that Russia has been providing refined oil to North Korea.
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