The U.S. has for the first time in a decade made public the monetary total of North Korean assets blocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in a Treasury Department report published Wednesday.
Referring to the amount for the calendar year 2017, the newest Terrorist Assets Report (TAR) lists USD$63.4 million in North Korean funds currently identified and blocked by OFAC.
The release marks the first time blocked fund totals have been included in a TAR since 2008, and comes as a result of North Korea’s redesignation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SSOT) in November last year.
First designated in 1988 but rescinded twenty years later, Pyongyang’s relisting last year means the Treasury Department must once again include totals of frozen North Korean assets in their annual TAR to congress.
These include, the report says, funds owned by “not only the Government of North Korea, but also individuals and entities acting on its behalf or engaging in other North Korea-related activity.”
As of 2008, the U.S. was blocking USD$34 million in North Korean funds, meaning the total of frozen funds within the U.S. financial system has nearly doubled in the last decade, as pointed out by Joshua Stanton, author of the One Free Korea blog, when contacted for comment by NK News.
The newly-released number does not, however, name individual asset holders or the date of the freezing of amounts, as the number of North Korean or related entities, individuals, and vessels sanctioned under OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list has continued to grow even since the country’s SSOT designation was rescinded in 2008.
Additionally, without access to changes in the numbers in the intervening years, it is not possible to see how the amount has fluctuated over time, or how much has been released or newly discovered and frozen since 2008.
Under OFAC regulations, all financial institutions and other organizations operating in the U.S. financial system must report annually any dealings with sanctioned parties under the SDN, and maintain a compliance regime to quickly freeze any assets found to belong to these parties.
OFAC allows owners of blocked funds to apply for their release, but does not typically release information regarding monetary amounts for a specific country to the public outside the compiled numbers in the annual TAR for SSOTs which, in addition to the DPRK, include Iran, Sudan, and Syria.
The U.S.’s decision to relist North Korea in late 2017 came at the end of a year of heightened tensions between the two countries, with President Trump in his announcement of the relisting blaming the North for “threatening the world by nuclear devastation” and supporting “acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil.”
The two countries have since entered negotiations over North Korea’s denuclearization, though the U.S. has not publicly signaled an intention to once again offer to remove the DPRK from the SSOT list.
Sudan, on the other hand, was on Wednesday provided this very offer in exchange for further progress in ongoing areas of cooperation, including on North Korea sanctions enforcement.
Following bilateral talks this week, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that the U.S. “welcomes Sudan’s commitment to making progress in… adhering to UN Security Council resolutions related to North Korea,” and that as a result, in part, they were “prepared to initiate the process of rescinding” the designation.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Rodong Sinmun
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 573 words of this article.