Tokyo, Seoul target North Korea-Russia arms deal with sanctions

The announcements follow similar steps by the US and Australia last week.
By Taejun Kang for RFA
2024.05.23
Taipei, Taiwan
Tokyo, Seoul target North Korea-Russia arms deal with sanctions Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi attends a press conference at Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 14, 2023.
Issei Kato/Reuters

Japan and South Korea have separately imposed sanctions on individuals and entities involved in the arms trade between North Korea and Russia, they announced on Friday, the latest steps aimed at ending help for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Japan said it would impose sanctions on 11 organizations and one individual for their involvement in military cooperation between the two countries.

“Amid Russia’s prolonged aggression in Ukraine, we have decided to freeze the assets of organizations and individuals involved in military cooperation between North Korea and Russia,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said during a regular press conference.

“The transfer of North Korean weapons to Russia is a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions that prohibit the transfer of North Korean weapons and related materials,” Hayashi said, adding that the supply “could further aggravate the situation in Ukraine.”

The sanctions were imposed in co-operation with the United States, he said.

Separately, South Korea announced sanctions on North Korean individuals and Russian vessels for arms trading.

“Seven North Korean individuals and two Russian vessels have been designated for independent sanctions for their involvement in the provision of materials and financing for North Korea’s nuclear and missile development,” South Korea’s foreign ministry said.

The sanctioned entities were also involved in the transport of munitions and the arms trade between Russia and North Korea, the import of refined oil from North Korea, and the earning of foreign currency by North Korean overseas workers, it added.

The ministry reiterated its call for an immediate end to illegal military cooperation between North Korea and Russia.

“Military cooperation, including the Russian-North Korean arms trade, is a clear violation of Security Council resolutions and seriously threatens peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in Europe and around the world,” it said.

“The measures were taken in close coordination with friendly countries and will contribute to further tightening the international community’s sanctions network,” it added.

Prior authorization will be required for financial and foreign exchange transactions with individuals on the sanctions list. For ships, they must obtain permission from the administration to enter South Korea. 

The sanctions came a day after it was announced that leaders of South Korea, China and Japan will meet on May 26-27 in Seoul for their first trilateral talks in more than four years.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will have bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday, ahead of their three-way gathering on Monday, said South Korea’s deputy national security adviser, Kim Tae-hyo, adding that the leaders will also discuss “regional and international issues”.

Last week, Australia imposed targeted sanctions against entities linked to the unlawful weapons trade between North Korea and Russia , while the United States also announced sanctions on two Russian individuals and three Russian companies for facilitating arms transfers with the North.

Edited by Mike Firn.

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