In the continuing nightmare involving North Korea and their nuclear abilities, new charges were made on Tuesday by the Trump administration that Russian and Chinese companies are helping North Korea smuggle coal overseas to sidestep sanctions on Kim Jong Un’s nuclear activities.
Trump is threatening to cut off from the U.S. financial system any Russian and Chinese company helping North Korea.
Intelligence images mapping North Korea’s illicit shipping networks used to mask the origin of exported coal to China and Russia have been discovered. They expose Russia and China’s secret hand in undermining international pressure on the North Korean regime to give up its nuclear ambitions, this, while the two nations voted publicly on several occasions at the United Nations Security Council to intensify sanctions.
Kim Jong Un is able to generate enough income to fund ballistic missile and nuclear programs with the more than $1 billion in annual earnings from the coal shipments, according to the Treasury Department. The illicit coal smuggling networks through Russia and China have watered down the impact of the two new sanctions placed on North Korea over the past month.
According to the Treasury Dept.’s assistant secretary for terrorist financing, Marshall Billingslea, “North Korea has been living under United Nations sanctions for over a decade and it has nevertheless made significant strides toward its goal of building a nuclear tipped ICBM.”
Billingslea also made reference to the regime’s pursuit of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States mainland. He continued by saying, “I urge anyone in the financial services industry who might be implicated in the establishment of shell or front companies for [North Korea], and anyone who is aware of such entities, to come forward with that information now, before they find themselves swept up in our net.”
As proven by the intelligence images, Billingslea told Congress on Tuesday that North Korean shipping vessels routinely shut off their transponders in violation of international maritime law to avoid detection as they move from North Korea into Chinese or Russian ports to offload sanctioned coal.
Though he commended China for supporting a recent round of UN sanctions, he said Beijing has not yet shown it is serious about cutting off North Korean funding. Billingslea further stated, “Unfortunately, I cannot tell the committee today that we’ve seen sufficient evidence of China’s willingness to truly shutdown North Korea’s revenue flows, to expunge North Korean illicit actors from its banking system, or to expel the various North Korean middlemen and brokers who are continuing to establish webs of front companies.”
Billingslea warned the Trump administration will punish any company in violation of UN sanctions by choking it off from the U.S. financial market.
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