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US sanctions Russian, Chinese firms for alleged North Korea links

The reach of US sanctions on North Korea has now extended to two more entities, one Russian and one Chinese firm, amid frustration from the Trump administration that Beijing and Moscow are relaxing their support for a pressure campaign to push Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Sister technology firms, Jilin-based China Silver Star and Vladivostok-based Volasys Silver Star, were Chinese and Russian in name only and acted as front companies for North Koreans, the US Treasury Department alleged in a press release on Thursday.

The move to designate the two entities as North Korean-controlled, announced by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, will ban the firms and their executives from the US financial system and from doing business with US citizens.

The announcement highlighted findings of the UN Security Council that revenue generated from overseas North Korean businesses contributes to the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

“Treasury is once again warning the IT industry, businesses, and individuals across the globe to take precautions to ensure that they are not unwittingly employing North Korean workers for technology projects by doing business with companies like the ones designated today,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was quoted as saying in the press release.

In the months following a June summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reports from the Chinese and Russian borders with the North have shown indications of an uptick in underground cross-border commerce.

Amid such reporting, President Trump has suggested repeatedly, in interviews and via twitter, that China has been relaxing its enforcement of sanctions enacted before his summit with Kim.

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