US sanctions alleged Chinese & Russian supporters of North Korea

The US has targeted alleged Chinese, Russian, and Singaporean supporters of the North Korean Regime, adding 6 people and 10 entities to its SDN List.  Specifically, the new designations are aimed at people and entities who are assisting already-designated persons who support North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, deal in the North Korean energy trade, facilitate North Korea’s exportation of workers, or enable sanctioned entities to access US and international financial systems.

Among those listed are 3 Chinese coal importers, Russian firm Gefest-M, and 2 Singapore based companies said to be providing oil to North Korea.  China has responded by saying that the US should “immediately correct its mistake” of imposing sanctions on Chinese people and entities. The US Treasury’s press release is here, and the details of the listings are here.

China implements some recent UN DPRK sanctions

China has begun to implement the most recent wave of UN sanctions on North Korea, imposed by a resolution passed on 6 August (see previous blog).  Yesterday, its Commerce Ministry authorised the implementation of the new prohibitions on North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and seafood. Cargo already en route to China will be cleared as usual before the deadline for implementing the new sanctions passes on 6 September.

China has yet to begin implementation of other elements of the new sanctions, which include a ban on increasing the total number of work authorisations for North Koreans without approval from the Security Council committee and a ban on the opening of new joint ventures or expansion of existing joint ventures with North Korean firms or people.

EU implements new UN DPRK listings

The EU has implemented the UN’s new designations on its sanctions on North Korea, which include the state-owned Foreign Trade Bank and individuals in N Korea’s financial sector (see previous blog).  The EU has yet to implement the other elements of the UN’s new sanctions on North Korea, such as prohibitions on North Korean coal and iron exports, but said in its press release that it would do so soon. See Implementing Regulation 2017/1457 amending Regulation 329/2007 and Implementing Decision 2017/1459 implementing Decision 2016/849. The EU’s notice is here.

New UN sanctions on N Korea

The UN Security Council has imposed new sanctions on North Korea, in response to its most recent ballistic missile launches in July. The new resolution is here. These measures:

  1. prohibit North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and seafood.
     
  2. prevent Member States from increasing the total number of work authorisations for North Koreans without approval from the Security Council committee, and the opening of new joint ventures or expansion of existing joint ventures with North Korean firms or people.
     
  3. add 9 people and 4 entities to the UN travel ban and asset freeze.
     
  4. ask INTERPOL to issue special notices which alert national law enforcement authorities that particular sanctions apply to designated people and entities. They were first introduced to support the UN’s anti-terrorism sanctions, but have since been expanded to several other regimes including DRC, CAR, Sudan, and North Korea.

President Trump signs new sanctions on Russia, Iran, DPRK into law

President Trump today signed a bill passed by Congress last week, which imposes new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea (see previous blog). The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act restricts the President’s ability to lift sanctions without Congressional approval.  President Trump’s statement on signing the Act makes the following remarks:

“…the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate…  By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.  The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President.  This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.

Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity.  It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.  We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary… I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.  That is a big part of the reason I was elected.  As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”

In response to the bill passing through Congress, Russia ordered the expulsion of 755 US diplomatic staff from the country.

Russia retaliates as US Congress passes new sanctions bill

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea (see previous blog).  That bill has now also passed the US Senate, and will go before President Trump for his signature.

In response, Russia has instructed the US to reduce the number of its diplomatic personnel in Russia to 455 at any given time, and has seized holiday properties and a warehouse used by US personnel.  It is reported that there are currently over 1000 staff working at the US embassy in Moscow and its 3 Russian consulates.

House of Representatives votes for US sanctions on Russia, Iran, & N Korea

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly (419-3) passed legislation which imposes new sanctions on Russia (for involvement in the 2016 election), Iran, and North Korea, and require the President to obtain approval from Congress before lifting US sanctions.  The US Senate recently passed a similar bill (see previous blog), but the House amended the legislation before passing it and so it must now return to the Senate for approval. The White House has expressed concerns that the Bill will restrict a President’s ability to conduct foreign policy, but has not yet indicated whether President Trump will sign the legislation.

The EU has raised concerns about these new US sanctions (see previous blog), saying that it stands ready to retaliate if the US imposes new sanctions on Russia without first addressing Europe’s concerns. EU Commissioners have been briefed that several EU energy and infrastructure projects, including a multibillion-euro pipeline involving Russia, could be affected by the sanctions in their current form.

Revised US Bill on Russia, Iran & DPRK sanctions now agreed

US Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement the Countering Iran’s Destabilising Activities Bill that allows new US sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea.

We reported in June that the US Senate had voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill, that it had been held up in the House of Representatives, and that the Senate had been sent a revised version. The new agreed version adds North Korea sanctions to the package. It requires the President to submit to Congress a report on proposed actions that would “significantly alter” US foreign policy in connection with Russia, including easing sanctions. Congress would have at least 30 days to hold hearings and then vote to uphold or reject the President’s proposed changes.  The House will vote on the Bill on Tuesday this week.