US Sanctions Firms Transferring Oil to North Korean Ships at Sea

The United States on Friday imposed new sanctions following North Korea's latest missile launches this week, targeting a fuel procurement network that Washington said supports Pyongyang's weapons programs and its military.

Friday's action targeted two Singapore-registered companies and a Marshall Islands-registered firm, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement, as Washington seeks to hold North Korea accountable for ship-to-ship transfers that circumvent United Nations sanctions on the country.

North Korea's mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The sanctions came after North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan on Tuesday, which prompted joint South Korean and U.S. missile drills.

North Korea also fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Thursday in the direction of Japan, after the return of a U.S. aircraft carrier to the region and a U.N. Security Council meeting in response to the North's recent launches.

Those launches were the sixth time in 12 days that North Korea has test fired ballistic missiles. The United States accused China and Russia on Wednesday of enabling Kim by protecting Pyongyang from attempts to strengthen U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

It accused them of being involved in the ownership or management of a vessel that has participated in several deliveries of refined petroleum to North Korea. Washington said the vessel conducted ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean vessels and at least one direct delivery and said it engaged in "deceptive shipping practices."

United Nations sanctions monitors have found that North Korea has repeatedly circumvented restrictions on trade of things like coal and oil, often through transfer from ship to ship at sea. Also designated were Singapore-registered Anfasar Trading (S) Pte. Ltd. and Singapore-registered Swanseas Port Services Pte. Ltd. over their links to Kwek, Treasury said.

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