WASHINGTON (CN) – President Obama has imposed sweeping economic sanctions against North Korea because of its continued development of a nuclear arsenal, and illicit sales of arms and technology to state sponsors of terrorism, among other reasons.
The president also cites North Korea’s attempts to destabilize the Korean peninsula through drug trafficking, currency counterfeiting and money laundering, and the alleged sinking of a South Korean naval vessel.
In comments published after the order’s release, Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey said “The destructive course that the North Korean government is charting is facilitated by a lifeline of cash generated through a range of illicit activities.”
The order takes aim at participants in those illicit activities, and freezes their property under U.S. jurisdiction upon a Treasury Secretary determination that they have engaged in the export or import of luxury goods, arms, or drugs, or that they have provided financial or logistical assistance in procuring goods banned by previous executive orders and United Nations sanctions.
Levey mentioned North Korean’s Green Pine Associated Corporation, and its parent, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, and the Bureau’s commander, Lt. Gen. Kim Yong Chol as being “responsible for approximately half of the arms and related materiel North Korea exports.” Green Pine has been under sanction by the United Nations since 2009.
In the past three decades, North Korean citizens, diplomats and government officials have engaged in narcotics trafficking according to the U.S. Treasury Department, and according to the governments Turkey, Egypt, Taiwan and Japan, North Korean officials are linked to narcotics possession, distribution and smuggling.
With regard to counterfeiting currency, the Treasury has seized more than $63 million in counterfeit $100 and $50 bills, the so called “super notes” because of their quality, and believes that the North Korean government is directly involved in their production and distribution.
In a letter to Congress, Obama said that “The order is not targeted at the people of North Korea, nor at those who provide legitimate humanitarian relief to those people, but rather is aimed at specific activities of the Government of North Korea.”
The sanctions were effective immediately.