U.S. advisory on N.K. ballistic missile procurement issued as guidance to private enterprises: source

September 8, 2020

A recent U.S. advisory cautioning against helping North Korea with its ballistic missile program is believed to be intended as guidance for private sector enterprises dealing related goods, rather than a warning to Pyongyang, a source said Tuesday.

Last week, the U.S. departments of state, treasury and commerce released the joint alert, saying that the North has continued to acquire technologies and equipment for its ballistic missile program, ranging from forestry trucks to make missile launchers to common metals that can be used in rockets.

They called for companies around the world to be wary of Pyongyang’s efforts so as not to run the risk of even inadvertently violating U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

The first-ever joint advisory by U.S. government agencies came ahead of the November U.S. presidential election amid stalled denuclearization talks. Some observers viewed the advisory as Washington’s warning to Pyongyang not to undertake another provocation around the election.

While the advisory appears to have been written based on the premise that Washington regards the North’s ballistic missile program as a clear threat, it should be seen more as guidance to caution companies against potential violation of sanctions, rather than a message to the North, a source here said.

As the U.S. sanctions against the North are too broad for companies to be fully kept informed of, the U.S. government intends to give directions to companies to ensure that they do not let their products reach North Korean entities, the source said.

It usually takes about at least a couple of years to draw up such a government report in the U.S., the source added, suggesting that the report does not appear to have been released after a short period of preparations.

North Korea is under multiple U.S. and U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions banning the communist regime from testing nuclear and ballistic missile technology.