North Korean leader Kim Jong-un observes the March 7 test launch of four ballistic missiles. Credit: Rodong Sinmun

WASHINGTON — No aerospace firms were among the 16 Chinese and Russia entities the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Aug. 22 for supporting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The 10 companies and six individuals targeted by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control are alleged to have conducted  business with North Korea in violation of United Nations’ sanctions aimed at denying Pyongyang outside funding for its weapons programs.

Most of the entities Treasury is targeting are directly or indirectly involved in buying and selling North Korean coal, oil and mineral resources. Treasury also sanctioned firms and individuals involved in sending North Korean laborers abroad to build statutes.

The sanctions were announced a week after the New York Times linked North Korea’s recent spate of successful missile tests to black-market purchases of Ukrainian and Russian propulsion technology.

Ukraine’s state-owned rocket factory, Yuzhmash, took umbrage at the New York Times article and the International Institute for Strategic Studies report upon which it was largely based, denying that it had provided any assistance to North Korea.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, however, said last week that his government would investigate the allegations. “No matter how absurd the accusations, as responsible partners…we shall carefully verify…the alleged supply of missile engines … to North Korea,” he said.

Among the entities Treasury sanctioned:

  • Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co.
  • Gefest-M LLC and its director, Russian national Ruben Kirakosyan
  • Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Materials Co., Ltd.
  • JinHou International Holding Co., Ltd.,
  • Dandong Tianfu Trade Co., Ltd.
  • Mansudae Overseas Projects Architectural and Technical Services
  • Kim Tong-Chol and Qingdao Construction
  • Three Russian individuals and two Singapore-based companies involved in providing oil to North Korea

“Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an Aug. 22 statement announcing the sanctions.  “It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region.  We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future.”

Brian Berger is editor in chief of and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...