US targets Burmese firms for North Korea arms deals

The United States Department of Treasury added three Burmese corporations and a military staff officer to the Specially Designated Nationals List on Monday for their involvement in the arms trade with North Korea.

Lt-Col Kyaw Nyunt Oo, Asia Metal Company Ltd, Soe Min Htike Co Ltd and Excellence Mineral Manufacturing Co Ltd have been added to the roster of thousands of individuals and companies that US citizens are forbidden to do business with. The aforementioned companies and officer were found by the treasury to have facilitated the movement of weapons from North Korea to Burma, in violation of the UN Security Council ban.

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“North Korean weapons officials in Burma have operated several cover or front addresses to receive goods from overseas,” read the Treasury’s statement, “as recently as June 2013, Soe Min Htike Co. Ltd. and Excellence Mineral were companies working with North Korean officials to import materiel for military weapons programs. As of December 2012, Asia Metal constructed buildings and supplied construction materials on a DDI factory compound where approximately 30 North Koreans were still working.”

The new sanctions are part of a larger move by the US government to crack down on Burma’s Directorate of Defence Industries (DDI), which is known to have purchased military equipment and materials from North Korea.

David S. Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in the Treasury’s press statement: “The revenues from these continuing military sales directly support North Korea’s illicit activities. We will continue to target this activity in Burma, and the region, as we work with our international partners to shut down North Korea’s dangerous and destabilizing weapons proliferation.”

In September, a report by NK News accused the Burmese government of colluding with the North Korean military in establishing several front operations and using fake flags on ships to illicitly transport arms from Pyongyang to Rangoon, despite President Thein Sein’s promises to both the US government and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak that Burma will stop buying weapons from the notorious North Korean regime.

The US Treasury has been rigorously targeting the DDI, having placed several individuals and companies to the SDN list since Burma’s regime change in 2011. Lt. General Thein Htay, who was accused of defying the government’s stated support for the UN ban on North Korean weapon exports, was added to the list in July 2013, though the government promptly and publicly denied the allegations.

 

 

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