WASHINGTON -- The United States has sanctioned several new entities and individuals, including two Russian companies, one subsidiary, and a Russian citizen in connection with North Korea’s banned weapons programs.
A U.S. Treasury statement on June 1 said the action was aimed at North Korea’s military and its nuclear and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, targeting "revenue from labor, coal, and minerals" and overseas financial operations.
It said the move will officially list the people and entities as "specially designated nationals," which will prohibit U.S. entities from dealing with them and freeze any assets in the control of U.S. citizens.
"The Treasury is working with our allies to counter networks that enable North Korea’s destabilizing activities, and we urge our partners to take parallel steps to cut off their funding sources," said John E. Smith, director of Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
OFAC sanctions were set against the Independent Petroleum Company (IPC), a Russian firm the Treasury said provides oil and petroleum products to North Korea and "may have been involved in circumventing North Korean sanctions."
The office listed one of IPC’s subsidiaries, AO NNK-Primornefteproduct, among the sanctioned entities.
It also designated Moscow-based Ardis-Bearings LLC and its director, Igor Aleksandrovich Michurin, for their dealing with Korean Tangun Trading Corporation, which was designated in 2009 for its involvement in North Korea’s weapons program.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow was puzzled and alarmed by the U.S. decision to sanction the Russian companies and the individual and was preparing retaliatory measures, Russian news agencies reported.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to lows unseen since the Cold War amid rancor over Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, its backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine, and other issues.
North Korea's nuclear and WMD programs have been banned by the United Nations, but Pyongyang has said they are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.