US Sanctions Two North Korean Officials Over Weapons Program

Russia: US 'Aggressive Rhetoric' on North Korea Fueling Tensions

Washington D.C. [U.S], Dec 27: The United States on Tuesday sanctioned two North Korean officials for their roles in developing the country's ballistic missile program, the Treasury Department said.

"These actions follow Friday's United Nations Security Council Resolution, which imposed strong new sanctions on North Korea further shutting down its ability to raise illicit funds", Mnuchin added.

The news agency reported that Ri Pyong-chol was a former air force general educated in Russian Federation and that Kim Jong-sik was a veteran rocket scientist.

Tensions escalated between the two nations when earlier on September 15, North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile, which flew over Hokkaido Island in Japan before and swashed into the Pacific Ocean.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have escalated this year, and Pyongyang's test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on November 28 marked an advance in its drive to threaten the U.S. mainland with a nuclear strike. The report also mentions that Kim Jong-sik is a rocket scientist while Ri Pyong-chol is a former air force general.

Both men are regularly photographed alongside North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at missile launches.

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The sanctions by the Treasury Department mean that any assets the two men hold in the United States can be seized and that Americans are prohibited from dealing with them.

The sanctions last week limit North Korea to half a million barrels of petrol products and four million oil barrels a year.

Ri is deputy director of the Workers' Party Munitions Industry Department, which oversees the ballistic missile program, which was sanctioned by the State Department in 2010.

North Korea launched a new ICBM on November 29, claiming it can carry a nuclear warhead to anywhere on the US mainland. North Korea is also known to employ deceptive shipping practices, including ship-to-ship transfers.

Despite the growing list of sanctions, Pyongyang has continued to test missiles.

All North Korean nationals working overseas made to return home within 24 months, restricting a vital source of foreign currency.

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