On Tuesday, the US State, Commerce and Treasury Departments issued an advisory identifying “key North Korean procurement entities and deceptive techniques employed in the operation and support of the regime’s ballistic missile program.”
According to the document, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) “uses an extensive overseas network of procurement agents, including officials who operate from North Korean diplomatic missions or trade offices, as well as third country nationals and foreign companies.”
"It is critical that private sector companies and individuals be aware of key items sought by the North Korean weapons programs, North Korean procurement tactics and techniques, the risks of involvement in North Korea's ballistic missile-related procurements and the potential consequences they face," the advisory said.
While the US has long limited trade with the socialist nation, with which it is still technically at war, extensive sanctions targeting the DPRK’s ballistic missile programs were imposed by the US and United Nations after the detonation of the DPRK’s first nuclear device in 2006.
However, the list of industries, materials and technologies that could potentially be implicated in such a program is so vast that it’s not just missile tubes and engines that are restricted, but a great many things that have numerous applications in civilian life. Sputnik has reported how technologies such as uranium purification, usage of high voltage cables, precision machine tools, carbon composites, laser and plasmonics research, biological research and cybersecurity are all sectors with civilian uses restricted in the DPRK by international sanctions.
Some of the items warned about in the Tuesday report include chassis and other parts for heavy-duty trucks, tape-wrapping machines, hydrochloric acid, various electronic relays, gyroscopes and materials such as aluminum and steel.
Meanwhile, diplomats from South Korea and the US who focus on relations with the DPRK held phone talks on Wednesday about resuming negotiations with Pyongyang toward a lasting peace settlement.
The DPRK has been at war with the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the United States since 1950, when the Korean War broke out and the US led an international coalition to stop the disintegration of the capitalist South. The three-year conflict ended in a ceasefire that established a demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, but the powers never signed a permanent peace treaty and re-established normal diplomatic relations. However, Seoul and Pyongyang did sign an end-of-war declaration in 2018, the biggest step toward peace in 67 years.
According to Xinhua News Agency, South Korean Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Lee Do Hoon and US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun agreed to more closely communicate and cooperate on restarting denuclearization talks with the DPRK. After several rounds of negotiations, the rapprochement ended in February 2019 when the US refused to lift some economic sanctions in exchange for the destruction of some of the DPRK’s weapons facilities.
However, after the November 2020 election in the US, policy toward Pyongyang could change. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, has indicated her support for partial sanctions relief for the DPRK in exchange for partial denuclearization.