United States sanctions two N.Koreans over ballistic missile program

Casey Dawson
December 28, 2017

"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", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

The Treasury Department said in a press release it has designated Kim Jong-sik and Ri Pyong-chol, both belonging to the Munitions Industry Department of the North's Workers' Party of Korea.

The official newspaper of the North's Workers' Party, the Rodong Sinmun, ran an editorial on Tuesday that said they need to be gripped with "a fever of studying" so that all party members will be armed with ideologies and theories suggested in the "historic speech" by leader Kim Jong-un.

Under the new sanctions, any property or interests in property of the two men within US jurisdiction are blocked, and transactions by USA persons involving the designated persons are generally prohibited, the statement said. The department says Kim Jong-sik, a veteran rocket scientist, is a key figure responsible for advancing the program to a point where the regime is successfully testing ICBMs capable of reaching the USA mainland.

North Korea slammed the fresh United Nations sanctions as an "act of war". The regime's latest nuclear test was in September, involving what it claimed to be a hydrogen bomb.

North Korea is believed to have successfully put a satellite into orbit in December 2012 after years of failures dating back to 1998.

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

Lavrov also "highlighted that it is unacceptable to exacerbate tensions around the Korean peninsula with Washington's aggressive rhetoric toward Pyongyang and increasing military preparations in the region".

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 U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday limiting the amount of gasoline and diesel North Korea can import and tightening inspections of ships suspected of illegally carrying banned items to or from North Korea. It also prohibits the export of certain items including machinery, electrical equipment and wood.

Kim Jong Sik is considered the mastermind of North Korea's missile program.

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