The U.S. Department of the Treasury slapped sanctions on two companies operating out of Russia on Thursday for their alleged involvement in the exploitation of forced labor from North Korea.
According to a statement by the Treasury Department, sanctions will be imposed on Mokran LLC, a Russian construction company, and Korea Cholsan General Trading Corp., a North Korean company operating in Russia.
The move follows a 2017 U.N. Security Council resolution that required all countries to send home North Korean workers by December 22, 2019, as a means of curbing the generation of foreign currency to support North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
According to the U.N. resolution, sanctions must be imposed on those that engage in, facilitate or are responsible for the exportation of forced labor from North Korea to generate revenue for the government of North Korea or the Workers' Party of Korea.
"North Korea has a long history of exploiting its citizens by sending them to distant countries to work in grueling conditions in order to financially support Pyongyang and its weapons programs," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. "Those countries still hosting North Korean workers must send these workers home."
Today's sanctions will force all property and interests in property of Mokran LLC and the Korea Cholsan General Trading Corp. that are in the United States or in the possession or control of any U.S. citizens to be blocked and reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control.
According to Reuters, the United States has estimated that Pyongyang was earning more than $500 million a year from its 100,000 residents working abroad, the majority of whom were stationed in China and Russia.