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US hits North Korean and Russian accused of supporting North Korea’s ballistics missile program

Aug 31, 2023, 2:22 PM

A TV screen shows a report of North Korea's rocket launch with file image during a news program at ...

A TV screen shows a report of North Korea's rocket launch with file image during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. North Korea said Thursday that its second attempt to launch a spy satellite failed but vowed to make a third attempt in October. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In response to North Korea’s failed launch of a spy satellite last week, the U.S. on Thursday imposed sanctions on two men and a Moscow-registered firm accused of supporting North Korea’s ballistic missile program.

The action was taken a day after the White House said it had new intelligence that shows Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have swapped letters as Russia looks to North Korea to supply more munitions for the war in Ukraine.

Treasury sanctioned Russia-based Jon Jin Yong and Sergei Kozlov, who it said worked together to coordinate the use of North Korean construction workers in Russia. It said they “directly supported or helped generate revenue” for North Korean organizations linked to the the development of weapons of mass destruction, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The U.S. said Jon led a team of North Korean IT workers in Russia and worked with Russians to procure identification for the workers. Some of the identity documents were from family members or Russian employees of Kozlov, Treasury said.

Treasury also sanctioned Moscow-registered firm Intellekt LLC, described as being owned or controlled by Kozlov and connected with a Moscow-based construction project coordinated by Jon.

The latest sanctions action was taken in coordination with the South Korean and Japanese governments.

Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary of terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement that the U.S. will continue to coordinate closely with both countries to combat North Korea’s “unlawful and destructive activities.”

The Biden administration has said Russia has increasingly turned to North Korea and Iran for the arms it needs to fight its war against Ukraine. In March, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russia was offering North Korea food in exchange for munitions.

North Korea has failed twice in recent months to launch a spy satellite into orbit. The nation’s National Aerospace Development Administration said it would make a third attempt in October.

U.N. Security Council resolutions ban any launches by North Korea using ballistic technologies.

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Associated Press reporter Aamer Madhani contributed to this report.

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US hits North Korean and Russian accused of supporting North Korea’s ballistics missile program