US imposes sanctions on N.Korean IT firms

Washington:  The US has imposed sanctions on two North Korean-controlled information technology (IT) companies based in China and Russia, accusing them of moving illicit funds to Pyongyang, the media reported.

"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 Steve Mnuchin said on Thursday.

The department designated the China-based China Silver Star, its North Korean CEO Jong Song Hwa and its Russia-based sister company Volasys Silver Star as such fronts, the Voice of America News reported.

The sanctions come at a time when the US is maintaining pressure on the North Korean government in its negotiations to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

"The US will continue to fully enforce and implement sanctions until we have achieved the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea," Mnuchin said.

White House officials have acknowledged that there has been no progress on denuclearization, even as President Donald Trump considers a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

They met face-to-face during their historic summit in June in Singapore. 

On Wednesday, the Pentagon said the US and allies are days away from launching a new effort to more publicly expose North Korean violations of sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear and missile programs, defence officials tell CNN.

The US has been using sanctions to maintain pressure on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme, even as it continues to engage in diplomacy.

 

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