The US has upped the pressure on North Korea (‘DPRK’) by officially designating it as a state sponsor of terrorism, and imposing further third-country sanctions.
President Trump announced the move during a public meeting with his cabinet at the White House on 20 November. DPRK joins Sudan, Syria and Iran as countries identified by the US Department of State as those that have ‘repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism’. DPRK was removed from the list by President George W Bush in 2008. A state sponsor of terrorism is subject to various restrictions, including the curtailment of US foreign assistance; a ban on defence exports and other sales; controls over exports of dual-use items, as well as other sanctions measures that penalise individuals and countries who trade with state sponsors.
The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (‘OFAC’) has also sanctioned one individual, 13 entities and 20 North Korean vessels. The sanctions target those with ‘long-standing commercial ties’ to DPRK. They also target the transportation networks that aid the generation of revenue for Pyongyang, revenue which is used to fund the country’s nuclear and ballistics weapons programmes. Those sanctioned include three Chinese trading companies that export a total of around $650m worth of goods to DPRK, and import around $100m in goods, including computers, iron, zinc ore and other minerals, according to OFAC.
‘As North Korea continues to threaten international peace and security, we are steadfast in our determination to maximise economic pressure to isolate it from outside sources of trade and revenue while exposing its evasive tactics,’ said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. ‘These designations include companies that have engaged in trade with North Korea cumulatively worth hundreds of millions of dollars.’
The escalation of US sanctions follows tough new UN sanctions approved in September, following Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test and the launch of a series of ballistic missiles, two of which flew over Japan. The UN measures ban the export of textiles and place a cap on oil imports into the country, as well as prohibiting commercial joint ventures with North Korean entities and the future hire of North Korean workers, in an attempt to cut off revenue to the regime.
For a list of those designated see: