WASHINGTON ― The U.S. government announced Wednesday that it has imposed sanctions on a Syrian state-owned bank due to its involvement in North Korea’s proliferation activities.
The Treasury Department said the Commercial Bank of Syria has provided financial services to North Korea’s Tanchon Commercial Bank and Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, both of which were blacklisted for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The Syrian bank’s Lebanon-based subsidiary, Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank, and Syriatel, the largest mobile phone operator in Syria, were also sanctioned under Wednesday’s measure.
“By exposing Syria’s largest commercial bank as an agent for designated Syrian and North Korean proliferators, and by targeting Syria’s largest mobile phone operator for being controlled by one of the regime’s most corrupt insiders, we are taking aim at the financial infrastructure that is helping provide support to (President Bashar) Assad and his regime’s illicit activities,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said in a press release.
The Commercial Bank of Syria also holds an account for Tanchon Commercial Bank, the primary financial agent for the Korea Mining Development Corp., North Korea’s premier arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, according to the department.
The U.S. is stepping up efforts to isolate the Assad regime amid its brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters.