US response to North Korea ballistic missile launch

United States Designates Entities and Individuals Linked to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) Weapons Programs

Between 1984 and 2020, North Korea has carried out 147 tests of strategic missiles. Here, a military parade in Pyongyang in 2015. 

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In a reaction to the continued proliferation of activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States has designated on January 12 eight DPRK-linked individuals and entities under Executive Order 13382. The South Korean military has made known that North Korea launched ballistic missiles on January 4 and January 10, in an attempt to demonstrate its advancement in developing its “hypersonic missile”.

Executive Order 13382 targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD delivery systems. The seven individuals and one entity designated, are all linked to the DPRK’s weapons programs.

“These designations convey our serious and ongoing concern about the DPRK’s continued proliferation activities and those who support it,” stated the Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. “The United States will use every appropriate tool to address the DPRK’s WMD and ballistic missile programs, which constitute a serious threat to international peace and security and undermine the global nonproliferation regime,” the Secretary of State said.

As the press statement points out, the U.S. Department of State has designated one DPRK individual, one Russian individual, and one Russian entity engaged in activities or transactions that have materially contributed to the proliferation of WMD or their means of delivery by DPRK.

Between at least 2018 and 2021, Russia-based DPRK national O Yong Ho has procured and engaged in efforts to procure missile-applicable items from third countries on behalf of the DPRK’s missile program, including aramid fiber, stainless steel tubes, and ball bearings on behalf of the Rocket Industry Department (aka Ministry of Rocket Industry), which is subordinate to the DPRK’s UN- and U.S.-designated Munitions Industry Department.

Between at least 2016 and 2021, O Yong Ho worked with Russian entity Parsek LLC and Russian national Roman Anatolyevich Alar, the director for the development of Russian firm Parsek LLC, to procure multiple goods with ballistic missile applications, including Kevlar thread, aramid fiber, aviation oil, ball bearings, and precision milling machines controlled by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Roman Anatolyevich Alar also provided O Yong Ho with instructions for creating solid rocket fuel mixtures.

The procurement and supply relationship between O Yong Ho, Roman Anatolyevich Alar, and Parsek LLC is a key source of missile-applicable goods and technology for the DPRK’s missile program. The Department of the Treasury designations targeted five People’s Republic of China- and Russia-based DPRK representatives of a DPRK entity subordinate to the DPRK’s UN- and U.S.-designated Second Academy of Natural Sciences (SANS). The Department of State designated this entity in 2010 for its involvement with or provision of support for the DPRK’s weapons programs. “We have been and continue to coordinate closely with our allies and partners to address the threats posed by the DPRK’s destabilizing activity and to advance our shared objective of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We remain committed to seeking dialogue and diplomacy with the DPRK and call on the DPRK to engage in negotiations. We urge all UN Member States to fully implement the UN Security Council resolutions addressing the DPRK,” concluded the Secretary of State.

The Department of the Treasury

On January 12, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five DPRK individuals responsible for procuring goods for the DPRK’s WMD and ballistic missile-related programs. These actions are in line with U.S. efforts to prevent the progress of the DPRK’s WMD and ballistic missile programs and the attempts of Pyongyang to proliferate related technologies. These measures follow the DPRK’s six ballistic missile launches since September 2021, each of which violated numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs).

“Today’s actions, part of the United States’ ongoing efforts to counter the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, target its continued use of overseas representatives to illegally procure goods for weapons,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The DPRK’s latest missile launches are further evidence that it continues to advance prohibited programs despite the international community’s calls for diplomacy and denuclearization,” he added.

As a result, all property and interests in property of the individuals and entities in the United States or the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals or entities designated may themselves be exposed to the designation. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of these individuals or entities could be subject to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through sanctions.

Special Representative for the DPRK Kim’s calls with ROK and Japan

Following the DPRK’s recent ballistic missile launches, the U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Sung Kim held separate calls on January 11 with Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Funakoshi Takehiro and ROK Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Noh Kyu-duk to discuss bilateral and trilateral cooperation.

In his calls, Special Representative Kim assessed the current situation on the Korean Peninsula and reaffirmed U.S. commitment to making progress toward the shared goal of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Special Representative Kim emphasized U.S. condemnation of the DPRK’s January 4 and January 10 (EST) ballistic missile launches, which violated multiple UN Security Council resolutions, and called on the DPRK to abstain from such destabilizing activities and engage in dialogue with the United States. Special Representative Kim punctuated continued U.S. openness to dialogue and diplomacy with the DPRK. He also reiterated Washington’s ironclad commitment to its allies, the ROK and Japan. The January 11 calls were the latest in the number of calls made between the three since January 5.

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