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On 22 December 2017, the UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously voted to imposed new sanctions on North Korea following its intercontinental ballistic missile test in November. The UNSC adopted Resolution 2397 (2017), which seeks to limit North Korea’s access to refined petroleum products and crude oil, and its earnings from workers abroad. The measures involve the following:

  1. North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum have been capped to 500,000 barrels for 12 months starting on 1 January 2018;
  2. North Korea’s imports of crude oil have been capped at 4 million barrels for 12 months as of 22 December 2017;
  3. Expansion of sectoral sanctions by introducing a ban on the export of food and agricultural products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stone, wood and vessels from North Korea;
  4. A ban on the supply, sale or transfer to North Korea of all industrial machinery, transportation vehicles, iron, steel and other metals (except spare parts to maintain North Korean commercial civilian passenger aircraft currently in use);
  5. Requirement for Member States to repatriate all North Korean nationals earning income within 24 months from 22 December 2017;
  6. Authorisation for Member States to seize, inspect, freeze and impound any vessel in their territorial waters found to be illicitly providing oil to North Korea through ship‑to‑ship transfers, or smuggling coal and other prohibited commodities from the country; and
  7. Designation of an additional 16 individuals (mainly banking officials – asset freezes and travel bans imposed), and 1 entity (‘Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces’ – asset freeze imposed).

The UNSC stated that additional tests of nuclear weapons or long‑range ballistic missiles by North Korea would result in further restrictions on its import of petroleum.

Following the adoption of Resolution 2397 (2017), OFAC also designated as SDNs two individuals, listed in said resolution, pursuant to Executive Order 13687. Kim Jong Sik and Rik Pyong Chol are senior officials in the Workers’ Party of Korea Munitions Industry Department and both are said to be key figures in North Korea’s ballistic missile development. As a result of the SDN designations, any property or interests in property of these SDNs (as well as any entities 50% or more owned by them) that come within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and transactions by US persons involving the designated persons are generally prohibited.

The EU has also aligned its list of sanctioned parties with Resolution 2397 (2017); the 16 individuals and 1 entity stated in point 7 above have been transposed into the EU sanctioned parties list for North Korea.


Ross Denton is a partner in Baker McKenzie’s European Community, Competition & Trade Department in London and member of the Baker McKenzie Japanese Practice Group. He also served as coordinator of the Firm’s International Trade & WTO Practice Group. Ross routinely advises US and Japanese multinationals on EU and UK competition matters and international trade law issues. In addition to his practice, Ross contributes to a number of publications, including Laws of the European Communities and Encyclopedia of Information Technology. He is a member of the UK Customs Practitioners Group and the World Trade Lawyers Association.