May 23, 2016 11:36
Russia has halted financial transactions with North Korea, and the EU has added 18 individuals and one organization to its North Korea sanctions list.
The international sanctions aim to strangle the flow of hard currency into the North’s nuclear and missile programs.
The Russian central bank last Thursday told all Russian banks to halt financial dealings with North Korean agencies, organizations and individuals on the UN Security Council sanctions list, Radio Free Asia reported.
The order said the banks must immediately freeze bonds held by sanctions targets and close accounts related to the North's development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
A Russian presidential decree will also take effect soon to close North Korean bank branches and joint venture firms.
But Russia will continue to allow financial transactions between Russian and North Korean banks authorized by the UN.
The measures deal a blow to North Korea because the two countries have only recently increased cooperation.
Russia has been criticized for giving the North Korean regime a lot of leeway by allowing its banks to open accounts for North Korean banks and settling business with North Korea in roubles.
"What's important is whether the international community including Russia and Switzerland will put their decisions into action," a diplomatic source said. "If they do, the North will suffer a lot."
A recent gasoline price hike in the North seems due to Russia's downsizing of supplies to the North.
The EU has announced its third round of sanctions since the North's latest nuclear test. This has brought the number of sanctions targets to 66 individuals and 42 organizations. They will be banned from entering EU countries and their assets will be frozen.
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