The U.S. government will now offer up to $5 million in rewards for information that might help lead to the disruption of North Korean sanctions-busting networks as part of a new project, the State Department confirmed to NK News this week.
The program, first reported earlier in the month by Radio Free Asia and first publicized at the beginning of the month, aims to counter everything from ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned commodities, North Koreans working overseas to raise money for the state, WMD proliferation, and foreign businesses linked to those activities.
Funds will also be allocated in exchange for information on North Korean weapons “sales or shipments,” as well as the smuggling of luxury goods into the country, in a project run by the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” project — a long-running program offering cash for intelligence on terrorist activities.
The program will reward anyone providing intelligence “leading to the disruption of financial mechanisms of any person or entity engaged in actions that support the illicit activities of the North Korean Government,” a State Department spokesperson told NK News, adding that the program will also seek to combat cybercrime by DPRK-linked individuals.
“The Department also is offering an RFJ reward of up to $5 million for information that leads to the identification or location of any person who aids or abets a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) while acting at the direction or control of the North Korean regime,” they said.
The launch of the program represents a notable enhancement of the U.S.’s long-standing policy of ‘Maximum Pressure’ on the DPRK, which aims to disrupt the North Korean government’s ability to raise money and force it to relinquish its nuclear arms.
The timing of the plans is notable, however, with both the U.S. and the North having appeared increasingly open to a resumption of high-level dialogue over the past few weeks.
But despite the ongoing détente between the two countries, Washington has repeatedly insisted that the pressure policy will stay in place until North Korea fully denuclearizes — a policy that Pyongyang repeatedly decried as a demand for unilateral disarmament.
Speaking to press on Wednesday in a briefing falling on the one-year anniversary of the first DPRK-U.S. summit in Singapore, spokesperson Morgan Ortagus reiterated this line.
“We hope that the commitments that we made one year ago will come to fruition, and we’re certainly ready on the working level to do that,” she said. “And of course, while that happens, while we work towards that, economic sanctions do remain in effect.”
Edited by James Fretwell
Featured image: Rewards for Justice, modified by NK News
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