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US targets North Korea’s chemical weapons program with new sanctions

The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled new sanctions aimed at North Korea’s chemical weapons program.

“We are sanctioning additional oil, shipping, and trading companies that continue to provide a lifeline to North Korea to fuel this regime’s nuclear ambitions and destabilizing activities,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The sanctions underscored the Trump administration’s fears about China and Russia failing to implement United Nations crackdowns on North Korea, despite Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to lead an international pressure campaign to cripple the regime’s nuclear weapons program. But they also put a spotlight on the pariah state’s chemical weapons program, which has received less public attention but still troubles western officials.

“[The United States] designated 10 representatives of the Korea Ryonbong General Corporation (Ryonbong), which has been designated by the UN and the United States,” the Treasury Department announcement explained. “Ryonbong specializes in acquisition for North Korean defense industries and support to Pyongyang’s military-related sales. Its procurements also probably support North Korea’s chemical weapons program.”

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