Australia sanctions entities linked to North Korea-Russia arms deal

The measures came after US sanctions on Russian individuals and companies over arms transfers with the North.
By Taejun Kang for RFA
2024.05.17
Taipei, Taiwan
Australia sanctions entities linked to North Korea-Russia arms deal FILE PHOTO: Australia's Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a joint press conference following an Australia and South Korea Foreign and Defense Ministers' Meeting in Melbourne, Australia, May 1, 2024.
Reuters/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/File Photo

Updated May 17, 2024, 04:47 a.m. ET.

Australia has imposed targeted sanctions against entities linked to the unlawful weapons trade between North Korea and Russia.

“Australia is imposing targeted financial sanctions, in coordination with international partners, on a further six entities associated with North Korea’s supply of arms and related materiel to Russia,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong in a statement on Friday.

“Australia condemns, in the strongest possible terms, North Korea’s illegal export and Russia’s procurement and use of North Korean ballistic missiles, in support of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine.”

Noting the continued transfer of weapons from North Korea to Russia is a flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, Wong said Australia would work with Western allies to hold Russia and North Korea to account and address the security threat posed by the North. 

Wong’s statement came a day after the United States announced sanctions on two Russian individuals and three Russian companies for facilitating arms transfers with Pyongyang.

U.S. Treasury officials said in a statement that the two countries had strengthened their military cooperation over the past year, with the North providing ballistic missiles and munitions to Russia in return for weapons and economic aid.

The U.S., South Korea and others have accused Pyongyang of supplying Moscow with weapons to use in its war in Ukraine – an accusation that both countries have denied.

A now-defunct U.N. panel of experts tasked with investigating violations of sanctions related to North Korea’s prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile programs, released a report in March, detailing with photographs Russia’s arms dealings with North Korea.

A few hours after Australia’s announcement, North Korea fired several short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast, the South Korean military said. 

“We identified several projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles fired into the East Sea [Sea of Japan] from the Wonsan area of North Korea,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The North Korean missile flew about 300 km (186 miles) before falling into the East Sea, the JCS added.

This is North Korea's fifth ballistic missile test launch this year.

The JCS said it was analyzing details of the missiles and shared relevant information with the U.S. and Japan.

“We strongly condemn North Korea’s missile launch as a clear act of provocation that seriously threatens the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula,” the JCS said, adding that South Korea will closely monitor the North’s activities.

Edited by Mike Firn.

This story was updated to include information about North Korea's missile launch.

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