Primary Sanctions

The North Korea Sanctions Regulations (NKSR) prohibit, among other things:

  • the export, reexport, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, from the US or by a US person, wherever located, of any goods, technology, or services to North Korea; and
  • the facilitation by a US person of transactions by a foreign person that the US person would otherwise be prohibited from engaging in under the NKSR.

Secondary Sanctions

Executive Order 13810 authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury:

  • to block the property of any person trading goods or services with North Korea;
  • to impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct or facilitate certain transactions with North Korea; and
  • to block funds linked to bank accounts identified by the Secretary of the Treasury as being owned or controlled by a North Korean person.

Executive Order 13810 further provides the Secretary of the Treasury with the authority to designate any person the Secretary determines to be engaged in certain activity involving North Korea, including certain commercial activity.1  Specifically, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to block anyone the Secretary determines to:

  • operate in the construction, energy, financial services, fishing, information technology, manufacturing, medical, mining, textiles, or transportation industries in North Korea;
  • own, control, or operate any port of entry in North Korea;
  • have engaged in at least one significant importation from or exportation to North Korea of any goods, services, or technology;
  • be a North Korean person; OR
  • have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, any person designated pursuant to the Executive Order, or to be owned or controlled, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the Executive Order.

On April 10, 2020, OFAC amended the NKSR to correspond to OFAC’s expanded authority to impose secondary sanctions with respect to North Korea.  The revised regulations allow the Secretary of the Treasury to block the property of any person the Secretary determines to:

  • import, export, or reexport to, into, or from North Korea any goods, services, or technology controlled for export by the United States because of the use of such goods, services, or technology for weapons of mass destruction or delivery systems for such weapons and materially contributes to the use, development, production, possession, or acquisition by any person of a nuclear, radiological, chemical, or biological weapon or any device or system designed in whole or in part to deliver such a weapon;
  • provide training, advice, or other services or assistance, or engage in significant financial transactions, relating to the manufacture, maintenance, or use of any such weapon, device, or system to be imported, exported, or reexported to, into, or from North Korea;
  • import, export, or reexport luxury goods to or into North Korea;
  • engage in, be responsible for, or facilitate censorship by the Government of North Korea or serious human rights abuses by the Government of North Korea;
  • engage in money laundering, the counterfeiting of goods or currency, bulk cash smuggling, or narcotics trafficking that supports the Government of North Korea or any senior official or person acting for or on behalf of that Government;
  • engage in significant activities undermining cybersecurity through the use of computer networks or systems against foreign persons, governments, or other entities on behalf of the Government of North Korea;
  • sell, supply, or transfer to or from the Government of North Korea or any person acting for or on behalf of that Government, a significant amount of precious metal, graphite, raw or semi-finished metals or aluminum, steel, coal, or software, for use by or in industrial processes directly related to weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems for such weapons, other proliferation activities, the Korean Workers' Party, armed forces, internal security or intelligence activities, or the operation and maintenance of political prison camps or forced labor camps, including outside of North Korea;
  • import, export, or reexport to, into, or from North Korea any arms or related materiel or any defense article or defense service;
  • purchase or otherwise acquire from North Korea any significant amounts of gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore, copper, silver, nickel, zinc, or rare earth minerals;
  • sell or transfer to North Korea any significant amounts of rocket, aviation, or jet fuel (except for use by a civilian passenger aircraft outside North Korea, exclusively for consumption during its flight to North Korea or its return flight);
  • provide significant amounts of fuel or supplies, provide bunkering services, or facilitate a significant transaction or transactions to operate or maintain, a vessel or aircraft that is designated under an applicable Executive order or an applicable United Nations Security Council resolution, or that is owned or controlled by a person designated under an applicable Executive order or applicable United Nations Security Council resolution.
  • insure, register, facilitate the registration of, or maintain insurance or a registration for, a vessel owned or controlled by the Government of North Korea, except as specifically approved by the United Nations Security Council; or
  • maintain a correspondent account with any North Korean financial institution, except as specifically approved by the United Nations Security Council.

1 Exec. Order No. 13810, 82 Fed. Reg. 44705 (Sept. 20, 2017).


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