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US imposes sanctions on Russian entities over support for North Korean missile projects

The US government has invoked sanctions on three Russian enterprises, alleging that they are involved in North Korea's efforts to develop ballistic missiles.

The US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said on 11 March that it had sanctioned three entities and two individuals for supporting North Korea's development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.

According to the treasury, such activity violates multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The treasury stated, “The DPRK [Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea] has conducted 11 ballistic missile launches since the beginning of the year… Today's action targets a group of foreign individuals and companies that aid a DPRK defence industry-related procurement agent in Russia; much of this activity also violates UN prohibitions with respect to the DPRK.”

Russian entities named by the treasury include Apollon OOO, Zeel-M, and RK Briz OOO.

The treasury said that the alleged activity involves supporting a North Korean firm known as Korea Ryonbong General Corporation in acquiring resources for the country's defence industry.

Korea Ryonbong General Corporation was listed on the United Nations (UN) sanctions list in 2009. The UN describes the company as a defence company “specialising in the acquisition for DPRK defence industries and support to that country's military-related sales”.

According to the UN Security Council website, Korea Ryonbong General Corporation was listed for being “engaged in or providing support for, including through other illicit means, DPRK's nuclear-related, other weapons of mass destruction-related and ballistic missile-related programmes”.

As indicated by the US treasury, North Korea has accelerated its frequency of missile tests and launches in 2022. These missiles involve claimed hypersonic weapons, KN-23 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), and long-range cruise missiles.

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