The US placed a general in Myanmar on its sanctions blacklist on Tuesday for arms deals with North Korea that violated the UN Security Council embargo on buying weapons from Pyongyang.
Weeks after a landmark visit to Washington by Burmese President Thein Sein celebrated the thaw in relations, the US Treasury named Lieutenant General Thein Htay, the head of Myanmar’s Directorate of Defense Industries, for the sanctions.
The Treasury said the general was involved in buying North Korean military goods despite his government’s support for the council’s ban.
It said he acted on behalf of the directorate, a military agency that was placed on the US sanctions blacklist in July last year for arms deals with North Korea.
The Treasury stressed in a statement that the Myanmar government, which until 2011 endured years of isolation and condemnation by the international community for rights abuses, was not targeted by the sanctions.
“This action specifically targets Thein Htay, who is involved in the illicit trade of North Korean arms to Burma,” the Treasury said. “It does not target the government of Burma, which has continued to take positive steps in severing its military ties with North Korea.”
The Treasury noted that Myanmar said in November last year that it would “abide by” the UN Security Council resolution banning the purchase of military equipment and support from North Korea.
“The international community has repeatedly condemned North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation activity,” the Treasury said, adding that North Korea’s arms trade is an “important source of revenue” to build “its proscribed nuclear and missile programs.”
Myanmar has repeatedly been accused of military links with North Korea, forcing Thein Sein to deny any secret efforts to obtain nuclear weapons technology from Pyongyang.