The companies are helping North Korea with "illicit ship-to-ship (STS) transfers to circumvent United Nations (UN) sanctions that restrict the import of petroleum products," the Treasury Department said in a statement issued on Friday, Presstv Reported.4
The Treasury also slapped bans on the Shang Yuan Bao ship flying under a Panama flag.
Assets of two individuals and those of Taiwan-based Jui Pang Shipping Co Ltd (Jui Pang) and Jui Zong Ship Management Co Ltd (Jui Zong), as well as the Hong Kong-based Jui Cheng Shipping Company Limited (Jui Cheng) were blocked by Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
North Korea has been involved in rigorous diplomacy with South Korea. US President Donald Trump has also claimed that Washington's diplomacy with Pyongyang has eliminated a purported threat posed by North Korea to the US national security.
But the US has also imposed several rounds of sanctions on North Korean officials, including a top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, for alleged human rights abuses.
The US sanctions have also targeted Pyongyang’s exports, including coal, iron, lead, textiles, and seafood, while also hindering the imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.
North Korea has slammed the US sanctions against the country as a “hostile act,” vowing never to surrender in the face of sanctions or military action.
“Our state is not a country that will surrender to the US sanctions; nor are we a country which the US could attack whenever it desires to do so,” a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a recent statement.
The spokesman described the renewal of the US bans as a “manifestation of the most extreme hostile acts,” but said North Korea “would not thirst for a lifting of [the] sanctions.”
Trump and Kim have met three times since last year to discuss ways to resolve a crisis over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Their second meeting collapsed in Vietnam last February when they failed to agree on mutual steps toward the demilitarization of the Korean Peninsula.
Washington now demands that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons entirely before the sanctions are lifted; Pyongyang insists on a step-by-step approach that would include verifiable American commitment to end its massive military presence near its territorial waters.