WASHINGTON — The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday against a Turkish company and two of its officers for doing business with North Korea, sending a tough signal to Pyongyang ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s expected visit there this weekend. The Treasury Department accused S.I.A. Falcon International Group of being involved in trading weapons and luxury goods with North Korea, defying sanctions imposed by both the United States and the United Nations. “The international community must not stand idly by as U.N. sanctions are being circumvented,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a press statement.
The United States placed individual sanctions on Huseyin Sahin, S.I.A.’s chief executive, and Erhan Culha, its general manager. Also sanctioned was Ri Song Un, a North Korean diplomat serving in Mongolia who was hosted by S.I.A. in Turkey to negotiate the deals, according to the United States.
Thursday’s sanctions were intended to send two messages: that the Trump administration will continue to ratchet up economic pressure on Pyongyang until North Korea ends its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs, and that the relationship between the United States and Turkey continues to be troubled.
The Trump administration has issued hundreds of similar sanctions this year and is expected to put in place hundreds more. It is unusual for the United States to impose such economic penalties on citizens and companies in allied countries, such as Turkey, which is a NATO member. Even so, the Trump administration has deployed sanctions as one of its most important tools of foreign policy.
Mr. Pompeo is expected to visit Pyongyang this weekend in yet another attempt to get North Korea to begin the process of dismantling its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Last week, Mr. Pompeo told the United Nations Security Council that while negotiations with Pyongyang were going well, sanctions against the country must continue for now.
North Korea responded that the United States is standing in the way of denuclearization. “The U.S. will get nothing from the sanctions, which make its position unfavorable,” the government said in a media statement on Thursday.
Pyongyang has insisted that the United States agree to an end-of-war declaration as a condition for nuclear negotiations to continue. The Trump administration wants North Korea to provide a detailed description of its nuclear and ballistic missile storage and production sites as the first step in a process of unwinding those programs.
South Korea has largely sided with the North Koreans, saying an end-of-war declaration is needed. And Russian and Chinese diplomats said last week that Pyongyang should receive some relief from sanctions to reward North Korea for the progress made so far in talks.
As for Turkey, the administration on Aug. 1 sanctioned two top Turkish government officials over the detention of an American pastor being held on espionage charges.
American and Turkish diplomats have been negotiating ever since in hopes of resolving a host of differences.
Thursday’s sanctions suggest that those negotiations have yet to yield concrete progress. Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor from North Carolina, remains under house arrest in Turkey; he is expected to appear in court next week.
Sanctions make it difficult for people and companies to find banks or other financial organizations willing to offer services, since so many of the world’s banks have operations or connections to the United States. American law requires that banks with ties to the United States avoid those under sanction. (By Gardiner Harris - https://www.nytimes.com)