US targets Burmese entities over arms sales to North Korea

The Treasury Department on Tuesday banned Americans from doing business with three Burmese companies and one individual accused of participating in arms sales with North Korea.

Asia Metal Company; Soe Min Htike Co.; Excellence Mineral Manufacturing Co.; and Lt. Col. Kyaw Nyunt Oo, a Burmese military staff officer, are the latest on a list the Treasury maintains of “specially designated nations” that blocks companies’ or individuals’ assets.

Burma’s Directorate of Defense Industries (DDI), specifically, received a Treasury designation in July 2012. Officials determined that the entities added on Tuesday have been linked to the DDI, which has been involved in purchasing military equipment from North Korea.

This designation does not “generally target the Government of Burma,” the department said. About a year ago, Burma's government agreed to abide by a United Nations Security Council resolution that prohibits the procurement of military goods and assistance from North Korea.

“The revenues from these continuing military sales directly support North Korea’s illicit activities,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said Tuesday.  “We will continue to target this activity in Burma, and the region, as we work with our international partners to shut down North Korea’s dangerous and destabilizing weapons proliferation.”  

Tuesday’s update marks the second action the Obama administration has taken this year in targeting North Korean military ties to Burma. Treasury officials added the chief of the DDI in July to the designations list after they discovered he was involved in trading North Korean arms.  

Despite the designations, the U.S. has been easing certain investment and financial sanctions that were previously in place against Burma's government. President Obama announced the thaw in May 2012