South Korea sanctions 7 North Koreans, 2 Russian ships for illegal arms, fuel trade with Russia

by IANS |

Seoul, May 24 (IANS) South Korea on Friday imposed independent sanctions on seven North Koreans and two Russian vessels for engaging in illicit weapons and fuel trade with Russia and other activities in violation of UN sanctions.

The latest move came as South Korea seeks to step up efforts to curb the North's activities banned under multiple UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions after a UN panel monitoring the enforcement of North Korean sanctions ended at the end of last month after Russia vetoed the resolution on extending the panel's mandate, Yonhap news agency reported.

Rim Yong-hyok, head of the Syrian unit of the Korea Mining and Development Trading Corp., a major North Korean arms dealer, is among the seven North Koreans.

Rim is suspected of involvement in the illegal trade of weapons and arms equipment with Russia. He was cited in the UN panel's March report on North Korean sanctions implementation as a man who handled weapons deals with Russia's Wagner mercenary group.

Han Hyok-chol, head of Taeryong Trading Co., is accused of bringing Russian diesel into North Korea. Under Resolution 2397, adopted by the UNSC in 2017, UN member states are prohibited from exporting more than 4 million barrels of crude oil and 5,00,000 barrels of refined oil to the North annually.

The five others are: Kim Jong-gil, Jang Ho-yong, Ri Kyong-sik, Ri yong-min and Park Kwang-hyok. They are believed to have worked illegally at IT companies in Vladivostok in Russia's Far East to earn hard currency to fund the state's nuclear and missile programs -- also banned under Resolution 2375.

The two Russian vessels, MAIA-1 and MARIA, are suspected of transporting containers loaded with military supplies to and from North Korea and Russia.

The sanctioned vessels need special approval from South Korean port authorities if they wish to enter a South Korean port.

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