POLITICS

U.S. Imposes Sanctions On North Korean Companies Linked To Cuban Arms Shipment

The North Korean-flagged cargo ship Chong Chon Gang, yellow, sits docked at the Manzanillo International container terminal on the coast of Colon City, Panama, early Tuesday, July 16, 2013. Panama's president said the country has seized the ship, carrying what appeared to be ballistic missiles and other arms that had set sail from Cuba. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

The North Korean-flagged cargo ship Chong Chon Gang, yellow, sits docked at the Manzanillo International container terminal on the coast of Colon City, Panama, early Tuesday, July 16, 2013. Panama's president said the country has seized the ship, carrying what appeared to be ballistic missiles and other arms that had set sail from Cuba. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

The U.S. Treasury Department is penalizing two North Korean companies and more than a dozen cargo ships for violating a United Nations arms embargo.

The companies and cargo ships are now on a list that calls for seizures of bank assets and bans doing business with U.S. companies, according to the Miami Herald.

The catalyst for the sanctions was the Koreans’ role in a shipment of Cuban weapons.

The two companies are Ocean Maritime Management Company and Chongchongang Shipping Company.

The case stems from an incident last summer, when a North Korean freighter carrying 240 tons of Cuban weapons to Pyongyang was intercepted in Panama.

The Treasury Department said that the weapons were going “from Cuba to the DPRK” — Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea, according to The Herald.

“How about sanctioning the owners of the Cuban weapons that were being smuggled … or how about sanctioning the Cuban officials that made the deal” with North Korea, wrote Mauricio Claver-Carone in his blog, Capitol Hill Cubans, reported The Herald.

The newspaper quoted what it described as a “knowledgeable Washington official” speculating that the United States did not feel the need to punish Cuba because the island nation already is subjected to strong U.S. sanctions.

Cuba maintains it did not defy any embargo because it was sending weapons to North Korea to be repaired and returned. It did not engage, it argues, in the transferring of weapons.

But a United Nations Security Council panel that reviewed the case determined that Cuba as well as North Korea had violated the U.N. arms embargo, which the U.S. placed on Pyongyang in response to its plans to develop nuclear weapons, The Herald reported.

This week, the UN imposed sanctions on the shipping company that operated the seized ship.

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