The UN Security Council on Thursday expanded the list of North Korean bodies and individuals under sanctions for nuclear and missile activities, adding its atomic energy agency and two of its top officials.
Altogether, the council’s North Korea sanctions committee clamped five new organizations and five people under asset freezes and travel bans, and banned the import into the reclusive communist state of two weapons-related materials.
Announcement of the list followed a month of committee haggling after the Security Council expanded UN sanctions against North Korea in a June 12 resolution that responded to a nuclear test Pyongyang carried out on May 25.
The entities sanctioned are North Korea’s General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE) and four trading companies, said committee chairman Fazli Corman, Turkey’s UN Ambassador.
The individuals are Ri Je-son and Hwang Sok-hwa, both described as directors at the GBAE, one other nuclear official and two trading company directors.
The measure, binding on all 192 UN member states, greatly lengthens an existing blacklist that consisted only of two companies and a bank involved in Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Arms sales are a vital source of foreign currency for destitute North Korea, which has annual GDP of about US$17 billion and a broken economy that produces few other items it can export.
The sanctions committee includes all 15 Security Council members, among them China, the closest Pyongyang has to an ally. Western diplomats said Beijing had slowed the work of the committee but had in the end gone along with the sanctions.
The companies targeted were Namchongang Trading Corp and Hong Kong Electronics — both also hit by US sanctions announced on June 30 — as well as Korea Hyoksin Trading Corp and Korean Tangun Trading Corp.
Apart from Ri and Hwang, the people sanctioned were Namchongang director Yun Ho-jin, Ri Hong-sop, former director of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear research center, and Han Yu-ro, director of Korea Ryongaksan General Trading Corp.
Western officials say Hong Kong Electronics is based on Iran’s Kish Island but is controlled by North Korea. They say all the companies were involved in nuclear weapon or ballistic missile activities.