US imposes sanctions on NKorean, Chinese, Iranian firms

US imposes sanctions on NKorean, Chinese, Iranian firms

Washington: The United States said on Monday, it has imposed sanctions on companies of North Korea, China and Iran for violating US law aimed at stopping the spread of missiles and other weapons technology.

The penalties were the first of their kind from the new US government and signal a willingness to continue the Bush administration’s tough stance on weapons proliferation.

Sanctions bar the companies from trade with the US. The measures were in the works for some time, but US government officials signed off on them after the new president Barack Obama took office and announced them on Monday’s Federal Register.

The sanctions, while largely symbolic, come at sensitive time in two key US diplomatic efforts. The US relies on Chinese leverage in international negotiations to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.

The Obama administration also needs the help of China, a veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), to deter Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon.

The Obama administration is currently reviewing its North Korea policy, but secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton has called the six-nation nuclear disarmament talks “essential." US heavily relies on China, the host of the negotiations and a country seen as having the most outside leverage with the North Korea.

Those talks are stalled, however, and tensions are rising on the Korean peninsula as the North Korea makes increasingly bellicose threats since president Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Pyongyang on Monday pledged to maintain its atomic weapons and warned of a possible nuclear war. On Friday, the North said it would scrap all peace accords with Seoul.

The North Korean companies are Korea Mining and Development Corporation, Mokong Trading Corporation and Sino-Ki. The Iranian companies are Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group and Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group. The Chinese companies are Dalian Sunny Industries and Bellamax.

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