The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on two North Korean and Russian companies that were involved in illegal overseas deployment of North Korean workers on Thursday. The new sanctions have been placed for the first time in eight months, but the move is interpreted as the Donald Trump administration’s commitment not to ease sanctions on Pyongyang although only about two months remain in its term in office.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Overseas Assets Control said it included North Korean company Korea Cholsan General Trading Corporation run in Russia, and the Russian construction company Mokran LLC in its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. Cholsan is a company that manages North Korean workers in Russia, and was reportedly involved in the process where North Korean workers received permit to enter and work in Russia. Mokran has been receiving work permit for North Korean workers’ entry into Russia and employment there.
The U.N. Security Council Resolution 2397, which was adopted in December 2017, requires that all North Korean workers dispatched overseas be repatriated to the North within 24 months. As a result, all UN member states were obliged to repatriate all North Korean workers hired in their countries to the North by December last year. However, China and Russia shunned repatriating some of the North Korean workers and let them remain employed.
The Treasury Department’s latest sanctions apparently reflect Washington’s determination to block Pyongyang from earning foreign currency through overseas deployment of its workers by filling the gap in such sanctions. The measure is also apparently a warning against China and Russia that have failed to cooperate in sanctions against Pyongyang.