New order more comprehensive than UN Security Council’s recent resolution, targets labor exports
U.S. President Barack Obama declared an executive order (E.O.) on Wednesday in line with the recently adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2270 and U.S. legislation, including the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 (H.R. 757).
The executive order released by the White House features sanctions against U.S.-related persons and organizations dealing with North Korean authorities’ activities, including overseas labor exportation projects.
“All property and interests in property … are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn or otherwise dealt in, to have engaged in, facilitated, or been responsible for the exportation of workers from North Korea, including exportation to generate revenue for the government of North Korea or the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK),” the order reads.
A former North Korean official who used to manage a joint company in the Czech Republic said this measure’s impact may be limited.
“In 2007, the Czech Republic banished 400 North Korean workers from its territory to join the EU,” defector Kim Tae-san, who is now living in South Korea, told NK News. “However, Russian logging companies don’t have many transactions with the U.S.,” Kim said.
Attorney Joshua Stanton, who contributed to the sanctions’ draft, said via his blog on Thursday that the E.O. is strong, beyond the requirements of Congress and the UN resolution.
“UN Security Council Resolution 2270’s potentially troublesome ‘livelihood’ exception doesn’t appear in this E.O., although the general licenses and implementing guidance contain much, much narrower humanitarian exemptions,” Stanton wrote.
China has called for not undermining ordinary North Koreans’ “livelihoods” through sanctions.
Obama’s new measures touch on cyber security attacks conducted outside of North Korea. It controls comprehensive transactions with the North Korean regime, even if it is not directly involved with weaponry development. UN Security Council Resolution 2270 generally prohibits transactions related to WMD development.
Following North Korea’s forth nuclear test in January and satellite launch in February respectively, Washington has stiffened economic measures to pressure Pyongyang. H.R. 757, designed to disturb the mineral trade between North Korea and China, was passed by Congress on February 11 and Obama signed it a week later.
The U.S. Treasury Department’ Office of Foreign Assets Control updated and expanded sanctions against Pyongyang on March 2, including Pyongyang’s national institutions such as the National Defense Commission, WPK Central Military Commission, National Aerospace Development Administration and Academy of Natural Sciences and Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry.
The new order added 15 organizations, mainly focusing on financial and shipping companies, as opposed to the previous list which largely focused on military institutions.
There are two more North Koreans updated on the blacklist: Jo Yong Chol, based in Syria and Ri Won Ho, based in Egypt. Both work from Pyongyang’s Ministry of State Security Office, the regime’s anti-espionage organization. They didn’t appear on the UN Security Council’s recent resolution.
Twenty vessels were included in the blacklist, but only one of them, named Victory 2 flying under a Mongolian flag, appeared for the first time.
“The U.S. had already designated a number of OMM vessels. The most recent sanctions now include those listed by the UN in Resolution 2270,” said Leo Byrne, data and analytic director of NK News.
“The UN Panel of Experts noticed back in 2013 that the Victory 2 was owned by a North Korean company, but had changed its flag to Mongolia,” Byrne added, saying it’s North Korea’s typical tactic to hide the origin of the vessels.
Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed this order on Thursday, highlighting the joint endeavor to pressure North Korea. – NK News
Featured Image: White House by ThatMattWade on 2009-11-21 14:34:22
(Ha-young Choi is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She studied Korean history, mainly focusing on modern Korean history at Korea University. Follow her on twitter @Hy_Choi0826)