Sanctions Profile: North Korea

At a glance

UN sanctions were first imposed on North Korea in October 2006, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1718, in response to its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile tests. Between 2006 and 2016, the sanctions consisted of an arms embargo, a prohibition on exports to and imports from North Korea of nuclear- and ballistic missile-related items, and targeted asset freezes and travel bans on people and entities identified as being involved in or providing support for North Korea’s nuclear or ballistic missile programmes.

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Since 2016, the UN has introduced wide-ranging new sanctions on North Korea.

The EU has implemented all UN sanctions on North Korea, and has introduced its own sanctions.

Summary of Current UN Sanctions:


  • Arms embargo
  • Ban on the export to North Korea of items relevant to nuclear, ballistic missiles and other WMD-related programmes
  • Ban on the export from North Korea of coal, iron and iron ore, gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore, copper, nickel, silver, zinc and rare earth minerals, lead and lead ore, food and agricultural products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stone including magnesite and magnesia, wood and vessels
  • Ban on the export to North Korea of all industrial machinery, transportation vehicles, iron, steel and other metals
  • Restriction on the export to North Korea of all refined petroleum products in excess of 500,000 barrels per 12-month period from 1 January 2018
  • Restriction on the export to North Korea of crude oil in excess of 4 million barrels per 12-month period from 22 December 2017
  • Ban on the export to North Korea of aviation fuel, jet fuel and rocket fuel
  • Ban on the export to North Korea of all condensates and natural gas liquids
  • Ban on the export to North Korea of luxury goods
  • Ban on the export from North Korea of seafood
  • Ban on the export from North Korea of textiles
  • Ban on the export from North Korea of statues
  • Requirement on Member States to inspect all cargo leaving or entering North Korea
  • Requirement to seize, inspect, freeze and impound any vessel in Member State territorial waters found to be involved in prohibited activities
  • Prohibition on Member States chartering their flagged vessels or aircraft to North Korea
  • Requirement on Member States to de-register any vessel owned, operated, or crewed by North Korea
  • Requirement on Member States to deny port entry to vessels owned or controlled by a designated individual/entity
  • Prohibition on Members State nationals/entities from facilitating or engaging in ship-to-ship transfers to or from North Korean-flagged vessels of any goods or items that are being supplied, sold, or transferred to or from North Korea
  • Requirement on Member States to expel North Korean diplomats who engage in illicit activities
  • Requirement on Member States to limit North Korean diplomatic missions to one bank account each
  • Ban on North Korean workers abroad (Member States must repatriate all North Korean nationals earning income within 24 months from 22 December 2017)
  • Requirement on Member States to prevent the provision of financial services, including bulk cash and gold, the opening of banking subsidiaries, the provision of public financial support, new commitments for grants, and financial assistance or concessional loans that could contribute to North Korea’s prohibited programmes/activities, or to the evasion of sanctions
  • Prohibition on Member States from opening any new branches, subsidiaries, or representative offices of North Korean banks (must also close all existing branches, subsidiaries and representative offices)
  • Prohibition on Member States from opening any new representative offices, subsidiaries or bank accounts in North Korea (must also close all existing representative offices, subsidiaries and banking accounts)
  • Prohibition on the opening, maintenance and operation of all joint ventures or cooperative entities, new or existing, with North Korean entities or individuals
  • Requirement on Member States to terminate all joint ventures, ownership interests or correspondent banking relationships with North Korean banks in their territory
  • Suspension of scientific and technical cooperation between Member States and North Korea (except for medical exchanges)


  • Asset freeze
  • Travel ban

Designation Criteria

  1. People and entities engaging in or providing support for (including through other illicit means) North Korea’s nuclear-related, other WMD-related and ballistic missile related programmes, or by persons or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction (family members of such persons may also be designated for the travel ban);
  2. People and entities that have assisted with the evasion of sanctions or in violating the provisions of UNSC resolutions; and
  3. People and entities that have contributed to (i) North Korea’s prohibted programmes, (ii) activites prohibited by UNSC resolutions, or (iii) the evasion of sanctions.

Summary of Current EU Sanctions:


The EU implements all UN sanctions on North Korea. By way of autonomous measures, the EU has also:

  • prohibited investment in and with North Korea to all economic sectors;
  • lowered the amount of personnel remittances that can be sent to North Korea from EUR 15,000 to EUR 5,000;
  • expanded the list of luxury goods subject to an import and export ban; and
  • prohibited the provision of computer services and services linked to mining and manufacturing in the chemical, mining, and refining industry to people and entities in North Korea.


  • Asset freeze
  • Travel ban

The EU has also imposed its own sanctions listings, in addition to the UN listings that it implements.

Designation Criteria

People and entities designated by the UN Security Council as being involved in or supporting North Korea’s nuclear-related, ballistic-missile-related, or other WMD-related programmes. In addition, people and entities:

  1. responsible for North Korea’s nuclear, ballistic missile, and WMD-related programmes;
  2. providing financial services that could contribute to North Korea’s nuclear, ballistic missile, or WMD-related programmes;
  3. those involved in the supply to or from North Korea of arms and related materials, or the supply to North Korea of goods and technology that could contribute to its nuclear, ballistic missile, or WMD-related programmes;
  4. people and entities working on behalf or at the direction of listed persons and entities; and
  5. entities of the North Korean Government or the Workers’ Party of Korea (including persons/entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, as well as entities owned or controlled by them) that are associated with North Korea’s nuclear or ballistic-missile programmes or other prohibited activities.


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4 South Koreans charged with importing North Korean coal in breach of UN sanctions

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US adds South African national to DPRK sanctions list

OFAC has designated Russia-born, South African national Vladlen Amtchentsev pursuant to Executive Order 13722 for acting for or on behalf of Velmur Management Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based entity previously designated by the US for being involved in the purchase of fuel oil and gasoil for North Korea. As a result, Mr Amtchentsev will now be […]

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Current Sanctions



Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1509

Parent Regulation

Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1509

Amended by:

Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1548

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1568

Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1836

Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1858

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1859

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1897

Council Regulation (EU) 2017/2062

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/12

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/53

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/87

Council Regulation (EU) 2018/285

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/324

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/548

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/602

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/714

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/814

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1009

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1074

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1231

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1284

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1606

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1654

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/93


Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/849

Parent Decision

Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/849

Amended by:

Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/1341

Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/2217

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/82

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/345

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/666

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/667

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2017/975

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/994

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1339

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2017/1459

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1504

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1512

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1562

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2017/1573

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1838

Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1860

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2017/1909

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/16

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/58

Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/89

Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/293

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/331

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/551

Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/611

Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/715

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/819

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/1016

Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1087

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/1238

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/1289

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/1613

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/1657

Council Decision (CFSP) 2019/96

Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018

Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (Commencement No 1) Regulations 2018

Sanctions Review Procedure (EU Exit) Regulations 2018