The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday sanctioned three North Korean officials linked to the country’s weapons of mass destruction program.
The sanctions come amid a barrage of missile launches by Pyongyang, including a Nov. 18 intercontinental ballistic missile launch, its eighth ICBM launch this year.
“We are working in close trilateral coordination with the Republic of Korea and Japan to identify officials who play a leading role in the TPRK’s illicit WMD and ballistic missile programs,” Brian Nelson, Treasury Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a news release. Released using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea;
“Recent launches demonstrate the need for all countries to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions aimed at preventing North Korea from acquiring the technology, materials and revenues needed to develop its prohibited WMD and ballistic missile capabilities,” Nelson said.
The U.S. sanctions include three officials from the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), John Iho; Eugene and Kensugi are targeted.
In a separate statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “The European Union (EU) designated all three earlier this year, noting that both Jon and Yu played a role in North Korea’s WMD programs and the launch of multiple ballistic missiles. While Kim is in charge of implementing WPK decisions related to the development of North Korea’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
“These steps demonstrate our continued determination to increase accountability in response to the pace, scale and scope of Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launches,” Blinken said.
South Korea said in a separate statement Friday that it would impose independent sanctions on eight North Korean individuals and seven entities linked to Pyongyang’s weapons development program and sanctions evasion.
“We will continue to strengthen cooperation with relevant countries to ensure a united and strong response from the international community, including further sanctions against North Korea’s aggressive provocations,” South Korea’s foreign ministry said.
US officials have repeatedly condemned North Korea’s missile launches as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions and a threat to international peace and stability.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Saturday that his country aims to have the world’s most powerful nuclear force by promoting dozens of military personnel involved in the recent launch of a new ballistic missile, state news agency KCNA reported on Sunday.
Pentagon press secretary General Pat Ryder said: “We know that North Korea has the potential to conduct another nuclear test. It’s going to be very destabilizing,” he said on Tuesday.
“And I think I’ve seen the Republic of Korea and Japan get involved, the United States and other countries in the region highlighting the fact that there could be consequences for that. Again, I will not go into it. But we hope that North Korea will be able to carry out such destabilizing activities,” he said.
The Biden administration has repeatedly tried to engage directly with North Korea, but Pyongyang has not responded decisively, a senior US administration official told CNN in early November.
Attempts to engage in dialogue have been made by private bilateral television channels, This was done through various means, including third parties and public messages, the official said.
The communications official declined to provide further details, citing the sensitivity of the communications, but made clear that Pyongyang was not interested in diplomatically dealing with what it had done.
The administration is very confident that it is sending messages to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for various reasons. Of these, they are publicly referring to why they refuse to talk to us. ” said the official.
“This is not what we want to know.” Yay, Is our message coming through or are we making it over the top? I am very confident because I have seen Kim Jong Un himself refer to dialogue and diplomatic efforts,” they said.
The official would not say whether the United States was likely to halt the talks without preconditions.
“I fundamentally believe that it is very important to have a dialogue, You need to find ways to understand and tell them what they are looking for. We have to find ways to see what we are looking for. If there are ways to improve, the official said. “This is their decision to refuse to start the process.”