US to Announce More Sanctions on NK Entities

Korea Times
Jung Sung-ki

(UPDATE: On Oct. 23, [2008] the State Department blacklisted two North Korean companies, Korea Mining Development Corp. and Korea Taesong Trading Co., for violating U.S. bans on the sale of equipment used in building missiles or other weapons of mass destruction to Iran and Syria. Citation: “North Korean Plane Was Grounded at U.S. Request “, Wall Street Journal, Jay Solomon, 11/1/2008 ) 

The U.S. State Department is expected to announce additional sanctions on North Korean entities connected to missile proliferation, Yonhap News reported Wednesday.

Some of the entities are believed to be linked to the Korea Mining Development Corporation (KOMID), which was designated in June 2005 in an executive order for supporting weapons of mass destruction proliferation, it said.

The measure would come at an awkward moment as envoys from six nations _ South and North Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan _ gather in Beijing from Wednesday for a fresh round of negotiations aimed at disabling and eventually dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and programs.

The U.S. Treasury had frozen some $25 million in North Korea-related money held in a Macau bank in late 2005, a punitive measure imposed as the six countries were signing an agreement toward denuclearization. That led to more than a year’s suspension in negotiations with the North.

The new round of six-party talks is already on shaky ground with suspicions that Pyongyang may have transferred nuclear-related material to Syria, prompting the unexplained Israeli air incursion into Syria earlier this month.

Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman, said Tuesday the new sanctions are related to missile technology transfers and downplayed possible negative repercussions on this week’s talks.

“The company that was sanctioned has been sanctioned previously for the same thing. So the net effect of this is really pretty minimal,” he said. “I don’t see…any reason why this should impact on the six-party talks.”

North Korea accused the United States of defending Israel’s recent airstrike against Syria, calling the strike a grave crime that undermines regional peace and stability.

The North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said, “Israeli warplanes’ intrusion into the territorial airspace of Syria and bomb-dropping are an outright violation of Syria’s sovereignty and a grave crime that destroys regional peace and security,” according to Yonhap.

The North’s comments came days after high-level talks between North Korea and Syria. The two countries, which deny the allegation of a secret nuclear connection, did not provide details of Pyongyang talks.

Andrew Semmel, acting U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for nuclear nonproliferation policy, said earlier this month that North Koreans were in Syria, and that Syria might have had contacts with “secret suppliers” to obtain nuclear equipment.

Semmel did not identify the suppliers. However, he said he could not exclude the possibility that a nuclear black-market network, run by the disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, might have been involved.

Semmel’s comments raised speculation that an alleged Sept. 6 Israeli incursion into Syrian airspace was a strike targeting a nuclear installation. U.S. officials have said Israeli warplanes struck a target. One U.S. military officer said the strike was aimed at weapons being shipped to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.


Comments are closed.