News Column

China Closes Accounts of North Korean Trade Bank

May 7, 2013

The Bank of China on Tuesday closed accounts of the North Korean Foreign Trade Bank, which the United States targeted for sanctions after linking it to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme, state media reported.

US officials had linked the bank to North Korea's "proliferation network" in March after Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear weapons test in February.

The bank did not confirm the closure of the accounts on Tuesday on its website, and made no disclosure to the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges.

The US and China agreed to strengthen sanctions against North Korea in a UN Security Council resolution adopted after the latest nuclear test.

It was not immediately clear if the closing of the account by the Bank of China was a move to pressure Pyongyang to return to multilateral negotiations on ending its nuclear weapons programme.

David Cohen, US under-secretary of state for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in March that North Korea had used the bank "to facilitate transactions on behalf of actors linked to its proliferation network."

"The United States will take strong measures to protect its financial system from this type of illicit activity, and we urge financial institutions around the world to be particularly wary of the risks of doing business with FTB," Cohen said.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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