USA sanctions two key figures in North Korea's weapons program

Marie Harrington
December 27, 2017

The Trump administration announced sanctions on Tuesday against two more North Korean officials for their alleged role in Pyongyang's expanding ballistic missiles programme.

"Treasury is targeting leaders of North Korea's ballistic missile programs, as part of our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the DPRK and achieve a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The U.S. Treasury said in a statement Tuesday the two officials, Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol, are being singled out for pushing forward with producing weapons of mass destruction.

Tensions have escalated after the isolated but nuclear-armed regime staged a series of atomic and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests, most recently on November 28.

Over the past few months Kim and U.S President Donald Trump also engaged in incessant verbal spat, with the latter branding the former as "rocket man", and the North Korean leader calling Trump a "mentally-deranged dotard" in response.

The new United States sanctions will block any transactions by the two men carried out in the U.S., essentially freezing any American assets they may have. He was also involved in helping the North transition from liquid to solid fuel engines.

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Two North Korean officials are facing sanctions in response to the country's weapons program.

"It was underlined that it is necessary to move from the language of sanctions to the negotiating process as soon as possible", the statement said, adding that it was Tillerson who initiated the call. Ri and Kim accompanied North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during the launch of the Hwasong-14 on July 4th and 28th, as well as September's launch of the Hwasong-12, which flew over Japan.

North Korea slammed the fresh United Nations sanctions as an "act of war".

They were both among 16 North Koreans placed under United Nations sanctions on Friday.

Under his supervision, the program has been transformed from a slew of failed rocket launches to the successful testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles that can be armed with nuclear weapons and are capable of reaching the US mainland.

North Korea has reportedly fired 23 missiles since February.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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