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Countries enforce sanctions to cut off North Korea’s cash flow
SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 27 (UPI) — Following North Korea‘s continued advances in its missile and nuclear programs this year, countries around the world are enforcing sanctions to curb the regime’s source of funding.
In line with the latest United Nations Resolution 2397 passed last week, Switzerland added 16 North Korean individuals and one organization to its sanctions list, Radio Free Asia said Wednesday.
The individuals include significant figures in the North’s missile development program such as Ri Pyong Chol, First Vice Department Director of the ruling Rodong Party’s Central Committee and Kim Jong Sik, Deputy Director of the party’s Military Industry Department.
This comes after the United States Treasury on Tuesday sanctioned the two officials, describing them as “key leaders of North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs.”
The Swiss sanctions also target 14 overseas financiers believed to be funneling funds into the regime’s programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. This includes Choe Sok Min, head of the Foreign Trade Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The North’s Bureau of Political Security which controls the North Korean military was also blacklisted by the European country.
RFA also reported Wednesday that Mongolia has started cutting back on the number of North Korean workers within its borders, as a response to Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile test on November 29.
The first group of laborers have returned to the North, and most of those remaning will be sent back by early 2018, according to RFA’s sources.
Mongolia began hiring hundreds of North Koreans during a construction boom in 2008, and reached an agreement with Pyongyang to employ as many as 5,300 over a five year period.
Construction firms prefer to hire North Koreans as they work longer hours for less money, a source in Mongolia’s construction industry told RFA.
However, due to economic struggles, the number of North Korean workers have declined since a high of 2,100 in 2013.
Currently, 1,200 are known to be working in construction sites and textile factories.
Sources told RFA that Mongolian authorities have stopped issuing one-year visa renewals for the laborers to further reduce the numbers in line with global efforts to pressure the North Korean regime.
In September, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution banning third countries from accepting North Korean workers, after the North conducted its sixth nuclear test. Following the regime’s ICBM launch in November, additional sanctions were approved last week, requiring countries to send the workers back to North Korea within two years.
According to data from Eurostat on Thursday, the European Union’s 28 countries issued fewer North Koreans visas to remain within their borders for more than three months.
Visas were issued to 312 North Koreans last year, 30 less than 2015 and less than half the number permitted to stay in 2008.
56 percent of those granted a visa applied to stay in the country for educational purposes.
The number of North Koreans permitted a working visa more than halved from 245 in 2015 to a total of 65 last year.
According to U.N. figures from September, around 100,000 North Koreans working overseas send $500 million to Pyongyang every year.