WASHINGTON/SEOUL, The United States on Thursday sanctioned two companies in China and Russia for allegedly facilitating North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
The Department of the Treasury also sanctioned a North Korean individual in the latest set of sanctions aimed at denuclearizing the regime.
Thursday's action particularly targets the revenue earned for the Pyongyang government by North Korean IT workers overseas.
The Treasury said it is sanctioning China Silver Star, which is "nominally a Chinese IT company, but in reality ... managed and controlled by North Koreans."
Also being sanctioned is the firm's CEO, Jong Song-hwa, and its Russia-based front company, Volasys Silver Star.
"These actions are intended to stop the flow of illicit revenue to North Korea from overseas information technology workers disguising their true identities and hiding behind front companies, aliases, and third-party nationals," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
"Treasury is once again warning the IT industry, businesses, and individuals across the globe to take precautions to ensure that they are not unwittingly employing North Korean workers for technology projects," he said, noting that the U.S. will continue to enforce sanctions until the "final, fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea.
The sanctions call for blocking any property or interests of the designated entities and individual within the U.S. Both companies are being sanctioned for their alleged involvement in exporting workers from North Korea.
Under a United Nations Security Council resolution adopted in December, U.N. member states are required to expel North Korean overseas workers within 24 months because of their contribution to the regime's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
According to the Treasury, China Silver Star is linked to the North Korean ruling party's Munitions Industry Department, which it said is responsible for overseeing the country's ballistic missile program.
It is also tied to the Korea Kuryonggang Trading Corporation, which is accused of being responsible for procuring commodities and technologies to support the North's defense research and development programs.
As of the middle of this year, China Silver Star had earned millions of U.S. dollars through projects with Chinese and other companies, according to the Treasury.
In early 2018, employees of Volasys Silver Star had earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in under a year, it said.
Meanwhile, South Korea's foreign ministry said that the latest U.S. sanctions appear to reflect Washington's belief that both sanctions and dialogue are important in achieving the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Source: Yonhap News Agency