U.S. Adds Fresh Sanctions on North Korea Over Weapons Program

  • Pyongyang continues to defy UN by accelerating missile tests
  • U.S. successfully tested its missile defense system this week

The U.S. imposed fresh sanctions on individuals and companies with links to North Korea as the Trump administration seeks to rein in the country’s nuclear and missile programs.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said Thursday it is adding three people and six entities, including the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces and the newly created State Affairs Commission to its sanctions list. A Moscow-based company, Ardis-Bearings LLC was among the entities added, with Treasury saying it has a track record of working with a North Korea firm involved in the weapons of mass destruction and missile programs.

The U.S. “will continue to target individuals and entities responsible for financing and supporting North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, and will continue to increase pressure on this hostile regime,” said John Smith, director of OFAC. “We urge our partners to take parallel steps to cut off their funding sources.”

North Korea’s aggressive rhetoric, as well as regular missile and nuclear tests in defiance of United Nations resolutions, have vexed the international community. President Donald Trump has sought to pressure China -- North Korea’s top trading partner -- to use greater leverage on its neighbor and ally, though Kim Jong Un’s regime often makes decisions contrary to Beijing’s wishes.

‘More to Do’

“If China’s not working with us on this major regional security threat of North Korea, where it holds a lot of cards and a lot of leverage, then there are going to be problems in other parts of the relationship,” Susan Thornton, a State Department official helping oversee Asia policy, told reporters last week in Beijing. “There’s some sense China is working to stop something worse from happening,” she said, while adding that “they clearly have to do more.”

While U.S. and Chinese pressure mounts, Pyongyang has accelerated its missile and nuclear weapons development efforts. On April 28, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the UN Security Council that it needed to act soon. Hours later, Pyongyang launched yet another ballistic missile.

This week, after world leaders again urged Kim to abandon its nuclear program, North Korea conducted another missile test. The rocket flew 450 kilometers (280 miles) toward Japan, according to South Korean military officials. It may have reached waters in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said afterward.

Trump has repeatedly warned that all options, including military ones, are on the table when it comes to responding to North Korea. Within days of the latest North Korea test, the U.S. successfully tested its missile defense shield, obliterating a mock ICBM launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The test, the first of the ground-based interceptor system since one that the agency says was a success in June 2014, was planned weeks before North Korea’s latest launch.

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