US blacklists Turkish firm for trade with North Korea

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Thursday blacklisted a Turkish company and two executives for allegedly attempting to circumvent sanctions prohibiting sales of weapons and luxury goods to North Korea.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that SIA Falcon International Group and the individuals acting on its behalf “are blatantly attempting to flout longstanding U.N. sanctions” against the North. Those penalties are intended to deprive the North Korean government of revenue for its nuclear weapons program.

The Treasury said that earlier this year, SIA Falcon officials hosted in Turkey a diplomat from North Korea’s embassy in Mongolia to negotiate trade deals involving weapons and luxury goods.

The executives named in Thursday’s action are SIA Falcon CEO Huseyin Sahin and its general manager Erhan Culha. They and their company are now barred from doing business with Americans and holding property or having interests in property in the U.S.

Calls to the company’s Istanbul office went answered and there was no immediate response to an email seeking comment.

The Trump administration has imposed a barrage of economic restrictions on North Korea, and those who do business with it, even as the U.S. looks to negotiate with leader Kim Jong Un’s government.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to visit Pyongyang on Sunday, to pave the way for second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump and achieve progress on the goal of “denuclearization” that the two leaders agreed to in vague terms in June. Washington and Pyongyang have been loggerheads over when sanctions should be eased, with North Korea insisting that it will not disarm without reciprocal steps by the U.S.

Mnuchin’s statement said: “The United States is deeply committed to the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, and will continue to enforce and implement sanctions until that time.”


Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.