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US sanctions North Korea for weapons violations

The US Treasury has announced a set of sanctions against individuals and entities in North Korea. The measures are an effort to curb North Korea's weapons trade.

Six bankers and three shipping companies were added to a US Treasury blacklist on Tuesday for what the department calls "proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons."

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A statement on the Treasury website said the sanctions were "designed to counter attempts to circumvent US and UN sanctions," and to place financial roadblocks in the path of such transactions.

All of the six bankers sanctioned by the US are said to represent banks that have previously been blacklisted for facilitating transactions that benefitted North Korea's proliferation network.

The three shipping companies are said to be owned or controlled by the Ocean Maritime Management Company (OMMC), which had previously been blacklisted for an attempt to import a concealed shipment of arms to North Korea in 2013.

Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has said the UN Security Council will meet on Thursday to discuss human rights violations in North Korea. Last year, the Security Council took up the issue for the first time despite objections from permanent Security Council members and North Korea allies China and Russia.

The UN General Assembly called on the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, but China or Russia would likely block such a measure by exercising their right to veto Security Council resolutions.

A UN inquiry in 2014 concluded that gross human rights violations by North Korea amounted to crimes against humanity.

mz/msh (AFP, AP)

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