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U.S. slaps sanctions on 2 N. Korean shipping firms

All Headlines 03:16 July 31, 2014

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Yonhap) -- The United States imposed sanctions on two North Korean shipping firms on Wednesday after a cargo ship from the communist nation was caught transporting missiles and other items from Cuba last year in violation of U.N. resolutions.

The Department of the Treasury announced the sanctions, saying Chongchongang Shipping Co. is the operator of the once-seized freighter Chong Chon Gang and Ocean Maritime Management Co. played a key role in having the ship's crew lie about the cargo and providing false documents to Panamanian authorities.

"North Korea uses companies like Chongchongang Shipping and Ocean Maritime Management to engage in arms trading in violation of U.S and international sanctions," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said in a statement.

"The Chong Chon Gang episode, in which the DPRK (North Korea) tried to hide an arms shipment under tons of sugar, is a perfect example of North Korea's deceptive activity, and precisely the sort of conduct that we are committed to disrupting," he said.

Under the new sanctions, any property or interests in property of the designated entities that are within U.S. jurisdiction must be frozen, the department said. In addition, transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States involving the designated entities or identified vessels are generally prohibited, it said.

The move came two days after a U.N. Security Council committee blacklisted Ocean Maritime Management Co., saying it played a key role in arranging the shipment of the concealed cargo of arms and related material, and the move demonstrates intent to evade U.N. sanctions.

The North Korean freighter was seized by Panama in July 2013 while carrying Soviet-era MiG-21 fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and other arms-related material hidden under sacks of sugar.

Of the 35 crew members, 32 were released in February after North Korea paid US$690,000. But three others were indicted on illegal arms dealing charges. Last month, however, all three of them were released after a court acquitted them of the charges.


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