WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday broadened U.S. financial sanctions on North Korea, freezing the U.S. assets of eight North Korean companies or agencies and four individual citizens.
The U.S. Treasury released a fact sheet detailing U.S. allegations against the North Korean entities and individuals targeted under the new U.S. executive order and a previous one. The following is a summary:
The Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) is North Korea’s premiere intelligence organization, created in early 2009 by the merger of existing intelligence agencies. The RGB trades in conventional arms and controls the North Korean conventional arms firm Green Pine Associated Corporation, which was also identified for sanctions under Obama’s order for exporting arms or related materiel from North Korea, the Treasury said.
Green Pine was brought under the control of the RGB in 2009. The Treasury said it specializes in the production of maritime military craft and armaments, such as submarines, military boats and missiles systems, and has exported torpedoes and technical assistance to Iranian defense-related firms.
Green Pine is responsible for approximately half of the arms and related materiel exported by North Korea and has taken over many of the activities of the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, according to the Treasury.
Office 39 of the Korean Workers’ Party engages in illicit economic activity to support the North Korean government, the U.S. Treasury fact sheet said. Office 39 has branches throughout the nation that raise and manage funds and is responsible for earning foreign currency for senior party leaders through illicit activities such as narcotics trafficking.
Office 39 controls a number of entities inside North Korea and abroad through which the Treasury said it is involved in the production, smuggling, and distribution of narcotics, and it has also been involved in the attempted procurement and transfer to North Korea of luxury goods.
Office 39 produced methamphetamine and was also involved in its supply to small-scale North Korean smugglers for distribution through China and South Korea. It also operates poppy farms and produces opium and heroin, the Treasury said.
In 2009, Office 39 was involved in the failed attempt to purchase and export to North Korea -- through China -- two Italian-made luxury yachts worth more than $15 million and destined for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the Treasury said.
KOMID is Pyongyang’s main arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, with offices located in multiple countries around the world with the primary goal of facilitating weapons sales and seeking new customers for its weapons, according to the Treasury.
KOMID uses Korea Taesong Trading Company and Korea Heungjin Trading Company for trading purposes. Korea Taesong has acted on behalf of KOMID in dealings with Syria, and Korea Heungjin acts as the procurement arm of KOMID, the Treasury fact sheet said. Korea Heungjin is also suspected to have been involved in supplying missile-related goods to Iran’s Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, it said.
Korea Taesong was previously sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State in 2008 under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
The Treasury said the Munitions Industry Department is responsible for overseeing the development of North Korea’s ballistic missiles, including the Taepodong-2 which was first test-launched in 2006 and has a possible range of 4,100 miles.
The Second Economic Committee is responsible for overseeing production of North Korea’s ballistic missiles. It also directs the activities of KOMID, according to the U.S. Treasury.
The Second Academy of Natural Sciences is a national-level organization responsible for research and development of North Korea’s advanced weapons systems, including missiles and probably nuclear weapons. It uses a number of subordinate organizations, including Tangun Trading Corporation, to obtain technology, equipment, and information from overseas for use in North Korea’s missile and probably nuclear weapons programs, the U.S. Treasury said.
General Kim Yong-chol commands the Reconnaissance General Bureau.
The U.S. Treasury fact sheet said Ri Je-son and Ri Hong-sop act for or on behalf of the General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE), which is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear program and manages operations at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center. GBAE was designated by the United Nations in July 2009 for its involvement in North Korea’s nuclear program and subsequently sanctioned by the State Department.
Ri Je-son is the director of GBAE and is responsible for facilitating several nuclear endeavors including GBAE’s management of Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center and Namchongang Trading Corporation, according to the Treasury.
Ri Hong-sop is a councilor for GBAE. He is also the former Director of Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center. In that capacity he oversaw the three core facilities that North Korea used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, the Treasury said.
Both Ri Je-son and Ri Hong-sop are also subject to the asset freeze and travel ban provisions under an earlier United Nations Security Council resolution.
Yun Ho-jin acts for or on behalf of Namchongang Trading Corporation (NCG), a North Korean trading company subordinate to GBAE. NCG has been involved in the procurement of Japanese- origin vacuum pumps that were identified at a North Korean nuclear facility, as well as nuclear-related procurement associated with a German individual.
Yun Ho-jin has acted on behalf of NCG in various capacities since the 1980s. As a senior official at NCG, he oversaw the import of items needed for North Korea’s uranium enrichment program.
Through an NCG office in China, Yun Ho-jin was also involved in purchases of sensitive material linked to the construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria, the Treasury fact sheet said.
He is also under U.N. Security Council asset freeze and travel ban sanctions.
Source: U.S. Treasury Department. Compiled by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Jerry Norton