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U.S. sanctions North Koreans linked to weapons of mass destruction

By Allen Cone
U.S. sanctions North Koreans linked to weapons of mass destruction
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking during the daily press briefing at the White House on February 14, announced sanctions against 11 agents Linked to North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction proliferation and financial networks and one entity. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Treasury Department issued sanctions Friday against 11 North Koreans and one company for links to the development of weapons of mass destruction, including financial support.

Foreign nationals were working as agents of North Korea's government in Russia, China, Vietnam and Cuba to help financially or develop weapons for previously sanctioned companies, the Treasury Department announced.

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"Today's sanctions are aimed at disrupting the networks and methods that the government of North Korea employs to fund its unlawful nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "I urge our partners and allies to take similar measures to cut off its funding."

Weapons of mass destruction have been banned by the United Nations Security Council in resolutions.

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"As a result of today's action, 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 prohibited from dealing with any of the designated parties," the Treasury Department said in a release.

Four individuals are tied to WMD-related entities: Korea Ryonbong General Corporation (Ryonbong) and Tangun Trading Corporation. Ryongbong specializes in acquiring North Korean defense industries and supporting Pyongyang's military-related sales, including likely support of chemical weapons, the agency said. Tangun Trading Corporation was sanctioned earlier for being primarily responsible for commodities and technologies to support North Korea's defense research and development programs, the department said.

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Six individuals were tied to banks, including Foreign Trade Bank, North Korea's primary exchange bank,

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Also, Friday, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned North Korea-based Paeksol Trading Corporation for selling, supplying, transferring or purchasing coal from North Korea, where the revenue may have benefited the government of North Korea or the Workers' Party of Korea, the agency said.

One government official, Kim Yong Su, a shipping representative for the North Korean-controlled Marine Transport Office in Vietnam, was sanctioned for attempting to establish a routine cargo shipping route between North Korea and Vietnam.

Also Friday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said that North Korea "appears to be going in a very reckless manner ... and that has got to be stopped."

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Mattis, who made the comments during a news conference in London, did not detail how the United States will deal with North Korea. Kim Jong Un has increased its missile and nuclear-testing program.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that military action was "on the table" because efforts to de-nuclearize the nation have failed."

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