The UK government has blocked the assets of a North Korean company on charges of funneling money to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
The Korea National Insurance Corporation (KNIC), based in Blackheath, was already under sanction by the European Union (EU) for “generating substantial foreign exchange revenue which is used to support the regime in North Korea,” British media reported Sunday.
Registered to a detached property on Kidbrooke Park Road among suburban houses in an affluent part of London, the KNIC’s total assets amounted to 130 billion North Korean won, the equivalent of £113 million in 2014.
The UK Companies House described KNIC as “closed” since 6 October 2016. The company was blacklisted by the EU following a UN resolution.
“Those resources could contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related or other weapons of mass destruction-related programs,” the EU warned.
Brussels claims that the KNIC’s headquarters in Pyonyang is directly tied to Office 39 of the Korean Workers’ party.
According to the US Treasury Department, the Office 39 is “a secretive branch of the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that provides critical support to North Korean leadership in part through engaging in illicit economic activities and managing slush funds and generating revenues for the leadership.”
The British Treasury refused to address the matter but a spokesman said, “The UK has fully complied and implemented the UN sanctions regime in relation to North Korea and North Korean companies.”
North Korea has been the target of a broad array of tough sanctions by the US and the UN Security Council over its nuclear and missile tests.
Pyongyang says its missile and nuclear program is part of its self-defense measures aimed at protecting the North’s sovereignty and safety in the face of threats by the US and South Korea.
It was reported in late March that Washington was weighing tough sanctions against the North to bar its access to the global financial system.
The new bans, part of proposals being drawn up by the US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, would particularly target Chinese banks and firms that do business with North Korea.