The Korea Herald


US slaps additional sanctions against N. Korea in response to spy satellite launch

By Yonhap

Published : Dec. 1, 2023 - 09:48

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This file photo on Nov. 22, shows the North launching a military spy satellite, called the Malligyong-1, on a new type of Chollima-1 rocket the previous day. (Yonhap) This file photo on Nov. 22, shows the North launching a military spy satellite, called the Malligyong-1, on a new type of Chollima-1 rocket the previous day. (Yonhap)

The United States on Thursday sanctioned a North Korean cyber espionage group and eight foreign-based agents of the reclusive regime in response to Pyongyang's spy satellite launch last week, the Department of Treasury said.

The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control added to its sanctions list KIMSUKY, a cyber incursion group, and the individuals who facilitated sanctions evasion to support the North's weapons of mass destruction programs, the department said. OFAC enforces economic sanctions.

The new designations were conducted in coordination with South Korea, Japan and Australia in response to the North's Nov. 21 launch of a space rocket to put a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit, according to the department.

The US and its allies have condemned the launch as a violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions banning any launch using ballistic missile technology.

"(The designation) demonstrates the multilateral efforts of the United States and foreign partners to hinder the DPRK's ability to generate revenue, procure materiel, and gather intelligence that advances the development of its weapons of mass destruction program and the unlawful export of arms and related materiel from the DPRK," the department said.

DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said that the latest sanctions reflect the participating countries' collective commitment to contesting the North's "illicit and destabilizing" activities.

"The DPRK's use of overseas laborers, money launderers, cyber espionage, and illicit funding continue to threaten international security and our allies in the region," Nelson said. "We will remain focused on targeting these key nodes in the DPRK's illicit revenue generation and weapons proliferation."

OFAC sanctioned Kimsuky for gathering intelligence to support the North's strategic objectives.

The group is subordinate to the UN- and US-designated Reconnaissance General Bureau, the North's primary foreign intelligence service, according to the department.

"Although Kimsuky is primarily an intelligence collection entity, its cyber espionage campaigns directly support the DPRK's strategic and nuclear ambitions," the department said.

"Kimsuky primarily uses spear-phishing to target individuals employed by government, research centers, think tanks, academic institutions, and news media organizations, including entities in Europe, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States," it added.

Among the eight sanctioned individuals were Kang Kyong-il and Ri Sung-il, who are Iran-based representatives of Green Pine, an entity designated by the US and UN for being responsible for about half of the North's arms and related materiel exports.

Green Pine, controlled by the RGB, specializes in the production of maritime military craft and armaments and has provided technical assistance and weapons to Iranian defense-related firms, according to the department.

Other designated individuals include those located in Russia, China and elsewhere.

In a separate statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that the three US allies -- South Korea, Japan and Australia -- will announce their designations in the countries' "first-ever" coordinated imposition of sanctions on the North.

"The United States will continue to pursue actors who support the DPRK's illicit activities and work with our allies and partners to deprive the DPRK of the funds to advance its destabilizing missile and WMD programs," Blinken said.

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department sanctioned, a virtual currency mixer used by Lazarus Group, known as a North Korea-linked cyber hacking group. (Yonhap)