On August 15 (local time), the United States Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on one Russian individual and three Chinese and Russian companies for violating restrictions on trade with Pyongyang. The measure immediately followed South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s announcement of a plan for more inter-Korean economic cooperation.
The targets of the new sanctions slapped by the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) are China's Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Trading Co., its Singapore-based affiliate SINSMS Pte. Ltd., Russia's port service agency Profinet Pte Ltd. and the company's director general, Vasili Aleksandrovich Kolchanov.
According to the OFAC, the Chinese company used falsified shipping documents to ship alcohol, tobacco and cigarette-related items into North Korea and the Russian company provided port services such as fuel supply to North Korean vessels on at least six occasions.
The latest measure is based on Executive Order 13810, which took effect on September 20, 2017. It is the 12th independent sanction in the Donald Trump administration, following the previous one with an interval of 12 days.
“Treasury will continue to implement existing sanctions on North Korea, and will take action to block and designate companies, ports, and vessels that facilitate illicit shipments and provide revenue streams to the DPRK,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement, adding, “There would be consequences against those for violating sanctions until there is full, verified denuclearization of North Korea.”
The latest sanctions are regarded as a warning preceding State Secretary Mike Pompeo’s fourth visit to the North. In addition, some experts point out that the sanctions are to reconfirm the principle of North Korean denuclearization with the South Korean government, which appears to focus more on inter-Korean economic cooperation than on denuclearization ahead of an inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.