US tightens sanctions on North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a ceremony at the meeting hall of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of KoreaThe United States is imposing new sanctions on North Korea, blacklisting more than a dozen government officials, agencies and companies in a response to what the administration called Pyongyang’s “illicit” nuclear and ballistic missile tests earlier this year.

The measures were announced shortly after President Obama signed an executive order authorizing tighter sanctions. They “reflect the United States’ commitment to holding North Korea accountable for its destabilizing actions,” said Adam J. Szubin, acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department.

This month, the United Nations adopted sweeping new sanctions against North Korea in an attempt to pressure it to abandon its nuclear weapons technology.

“The U.S. and the global community will not tolerate North Korea’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile activities, and we will continue to impose costs on North Korea until it comes into compliance with its international obligation,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

On Jan. 6, North Korea tested what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb and followed that a month later with a launch using ballistic-missile technology.

North Korea has responded defiantly to the U.N. sanctions, which are more robust than any imposed in decades. Among the new requirements, member countries must inspect all cargo going to or coming from North Korea to ensure it does not contain anything that would further the country’s nuclear or missile programs.

An official in the government of leader Kim Jong Un has claimed North Korea’s bombs could wipe out Manhattan. On Tuesday, Kim announced plans for another test, of a nuclear bomb. State media quoted him saying that “a nuclear warhead explosion test” would occur soon, as well as tests of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Pyongyang claims its nuclear program is designed as protection against the “hostile policy” of Washington.

The new U.S. sanctions name two government officials and 15 government-affiliated organizations, including the “propaganda and agitation department” of the Korean Workers’ Party, several banks used to evade U.N. sanctions and shipping agencies used to transport illicit materials. It also imposes sanctions against North Korean mining companies. North Korea is thought to use revenue from coal sales to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The Treasury sanctions single out two officials with North Korea’s Ministry of State Security, one based in Egypt and the other stationed in Syria, who are thought to be involved in the trade of arms and equipment related to ballistic missiles. (Courtesy Washington Post)


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