The US and its Asian allies have imposed sanctions on three North Korean senior officials associated with the country’s recent missile tests.
Pyongyang launched a record number of ballistic missiles more than 60 – this year, and tested several intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Jon Il Ho, Yu Jin, and Kim Su Gil allegedly “played major roles” in developing the weapons.
Japan, South Korea, and the EU have also imposed sanctions.
North Korea has faced tough sanctions imposed by Western countries for years. Under these new sanctions, all US-based assets of the North Korean officials will be frozen. They will be barred from any transactions with any business or individual in the US.
“Today’s actions have been taken in close coordination with the Republic of Korea and Japan and further align our policies with our EU partners on the global DPRK threat,” a statement from the US State Department said.
“These steps also underscore our sustained resolve to promote accountability in response to Pyongyang’s pace, scale, and scope of ballistic missile launches.”
The last missile test happened on 18 November when Japan’s defence minister said North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile with enough range to hit the US mainland. It landed in the sea roughly 210km (130 miles) west of Hokkaido, Tokyo said.
Pyongyang conducted six nuclear tests between 2006 and 2017, and has reportedly completed preparations for a seventh test. Experts believe it may use the opportunity to test a compact nuclear device. They also say North Korea is working to improve its short-range missiles and conventional military capabilities.
The country has become more assertive under Kim Jong-un who has overseen much of the recent development of its weapons programme, and four of the six nuclear tests so far.
“Recent launches demonstrate the need for all countries to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions, which are intended to prevent the DPRK from acquiring the technologies, materials, and revenue Pyongyang needs to develop its prohibited WMD and ballistic missile capabilities,” according to a US Treasury statement.
However, some American analysts say sanctions like these are symbolic and have not changed Pyongyang’s behaviour.
“We (US) can sanction North Korea all we want. But to have a real impact, we should also suspend US dollar correspondent bank access of those mainland Chinese institutions handling Kim’s regime cash,” said Sean King, a consultant at Park Strategies.