By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Russia and China have blocked a U.S. proposal to add a Russian bank and Moscow-based North Korean banker to a UN blacklist, UN diplomats have said.
Both Russia and China raised objections late on August 9 to a U.S. request that the UN sanctions committee impose an asset freeze on Agrosoyuz Commercial Bank for allegedly helping North Korea evade UN-imposed restrictions on financial transactions.
The U.S. request also targeted Ri Jong Won, the deputy representative of North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank in Moscow, and what it said were two North Korean front companies, mirroring sanctions Washington imposed on the Russian bank and other entities last week.
The U.S. proposal came before the United Nations Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee, which takes action only by consensus.
Russia objected because it said the U.S. proposal was not “adequately substantiated by sufficient information,” diplomats said. China also raised objections to the U.S. blacklisting plan.
Rather than ratcheting up sanctions on North Korea, as the United States is demanding, Russia and China recently have suggested the security council discuss easing sanctions in light of conciliatory steps North Korea has made, such as stopping its nuclear and ballistic missile tests, as it negotiates with Washington over denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The United States and allied council members have said there must be strict enforcement of sanctions until Pyongyang moves definitively to shut down its weapons programs.
The tough U.S. stance prompted North Korea on August9 to denounce the United States for responding to its overtures by “inciting international sanctions and pressure.”
Last week, Washington imposed sanctions on Agrosoyuz bank, Ri Jong Won, China-based Dandong Zhongsheng Industry & Trade Co, and North Korea-based Korea Ungum Corporation.
The U.S. Treasury Department said Agrosoyuz had conducted “a significant transaction” for North Korean banker Han Jang Su, who had been blacklisted by Washington. Han is the Moscow-based chief representative of Foreign Trade Bank, North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank.
The Security Council blacklisted FTB in August last year. Ri is FTB’s deputy representative in Moscow.
The U.S. Treasury said Dandong Zhongsheng Industry & Trade and Korea Ungum Corporation are FTB front companies, and also should be blacklisted.
Blacklisted organizations and individuals are subject to a global travel ban and asset freeze.
Russia and China last month blocked an earlier U.S. proposal before the UN council to halt further sales of refined petroleum products to North Korea this year. Washington had cited alleged smuggling of oil that has already put North Korea over a limit on such fuel imports set under UN sanctions.
The UN council last year imposed a series of sanctions on North Korea, including a ban on its exports of coal, iron, lead, textiles, and seafood, and caps on its oil imports, all of which were aimed at choking off fuel and funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.