WASHINGTON: The United States, South Korea, and Japan have imposed sanctions on North Korean officials connected to the country’s weapons programs after Pyongyang’s latest and largest intercontinental ballistic missile test last month.
The US Treasury Department on Thursday (Dec 1) named the individuals as Jon Il Ho, Yu Jin, and Kim Su Gil, all of whom the European Union designated for sanctions in April.
South Korea’s foreign ministry announced sanctions on seven other individuals, including a Singaporean and a Taiwanese, and eight entities. All are already under sanctions by the United States imposed between Jan 2018 and Oct 2022, the ministry said.
Japan also designated three entities and an individual for new sanctions, Japan’s foreign ministry said, including the Lazarus Group suspected of carrying out cyberattacks.
China and Russia have blocked recent efforts to impose more United Nations sanctions, saying they should instead be eased to jumpstart talks and avoid humanitarian harm. That has left Washington to focus on trilateral efforts with South Korea and Japan, as well as European partners.
The latest sanctions follow a Nov 18 ICBM test by North Korea, part of a record-breaking spate of more than 60 missile launches this year, and amid concerns that it may be about to resume nuclear weapons testing, which has been suspended since 2017.
A Treasury statement said Jon Il Ho and Yu Jin played major roles in the development of weapons of mass destruction while serving as vice director and director, respectively, of North Korea’s Munitions Industry Department.
It said Kim Su Gil served as director of the Korean People’s Army General Political Bureau from 2018 to 2021 and oversaw the implementation of decisions related to the WMD program.
“Treasury is taking action in close trilateral coordination with the Republic of Korea and Japan against officials who have had leading roles in the DPRK’s unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement, using the initials of North Korea’s official name.
“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.”
The sanctions freeze any US-based assets of the individuals and bar dealings with them but appear largely symbolic.
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