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Treasury sanctions Chinese firm and 2 citizens with ties to North Korea

  • The Treasury sanctioned a Chinese institution and individuals with ties to North Korea.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the goal was to maximize pressure on the isolated nation to abandon its weapons programs.
  • The actions come as the U.S. pushes Beijing to flex its influence over North Korea.

The Treasury Department unveiled new sanctions on a Chinese company and two Chinese citizens tied to North Korea Thursday in response to North Korea's weapons program and its disregard for U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that the department is "committed to protecting the U.S. financial system from North Korean abuse and maximizing pressure on the Government of North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs."

The sanctions come as the U.S. pushes for China, North Korea's largest trading partner, to exert more pressure on Pyongyang. Anxieties about North Korea's nuclear capabilities have escalated amid recent missile tests.

At a recent summit in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that China has a "diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region."

On Thursday, the Office of Foreign Assets Control designated two Chinese citizens and Dalian Global Unity Shipping. The Treasury said the two individuals have been linked to front or cover companies on behalf of North Korean institutions.

OFAC said Dalian Global Unity transports goods and products between North Korea and China.

While the individuals and institution designated in Thursday's actions are Chinese, Mnuchin emphasized that the sanctions were intended to target North Korea, not Beijing.

Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network also proposed banning U.S. financial institutions from doing business with the Bank of Dandong.

The unit alleged that the Chinese bank had served as a means for North Korea to bypass sanctions and access foreign financial systems. Treasury alleged that some of those transactions were related to North Korea's missile programs.

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