U.S. sanctions 5 North Koreans over weapons programs following missile launches

U.S. sanctions 5 North Koreans over weapons programs following missile launches

People watch a TV broadcasting file footage of a news report on North Korea firing what appeared to be a pair of ballistic missiles off its east coast, in Seoul, South Korea, September 15, 2021.
Kim Hong-Ji | Reuters

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it was imposing sanctions on five North Koreans for their work in developing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile-related programs for Pyongyang.

The sanctions come on the heels of at least two known North Korean ballistic missile tests.

The most recent test came Monday, the second launch in a week. It originated from the northern province of Jagang and traveled some 430 miles before plunging into the East Sea, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Today’s actions, part of the United States’ ongoing efforts to counter the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, target its continued use of overseas representatives to illegally procure goods for weapons,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement Wednesday.

“The DPRK’s latest missile launches are further evidence that it continues to advance prohibited programs despite the international community’s calls for diplomacy and denuclearization,” he added.

The designated individuals are:

Choe Myong Hyon, a Russia-based DPRK national
Sim Kwang Sok, a China-based chief representative who has worked to procure steel alloys
Kim Song Hun, a China-based representative who has worked to procure software and chemicals
Kang Chol Hak, a China-based representative who has procured goods from Chinese companies
Pyon Kwang Chol, the deputy representative of a suspected cover company for a Second Academy of Natural Sciences-subordinate organization located in China, where he was first assigned to work in 2014

Last week, Pyongyang said it successfully conducted a test of a sophisticated hypersonic missile.

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the U.S. was still assessing whether that test was of a hypersonic missile with a maneuverable warhead.

Under U.N. Security Council resolutions all ballistic missile tests by North Korea are banned.

The missile tests, which follow a series of weapons tests in 2021, underscore third-generation North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s ambition to expand military capabilities amid stalled nuclear talks with the United States.

Under his rule, the reclusive state has conducted its most powerful nuclear test, launched its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile and threatened to send missiles into the waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.

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