US sanctions North Korea firms over recent missile tests

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. imposed sanctions on five North Korean entities Friday in response to two ballistic missile tests the reclusive Asian country conducted in February and March.

The March launch was North Korea’s most provocative weapons test since President Joe Biden took office.

Authorized under an existing executive order targeting producers and supporters of weapons of mass destruction, the sanctions come after Japan issued its own penalties this week on four groups and nine individuals tied to missile development.

The U.S. government determined that the launches involved a new intercontinental ballistic missile which could be used in the future, potentially disguised as a space launch.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said Friday’s sanctions target the firms for providing support to North Korea’s “development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, in violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

Sanctioned entities include the Ministry of Rocket Industry, the Hapjanggang Trading Corporation, Korea Rounsan Trading Corp., Sungnisan Trading Corp., and Unchon Trading Corp.

“The DPRK’s provocative ballistic missile tests represent a clear threat to regional and global security and are in blatant violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

DPRK is an acronym for the country’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea

“The United States is committed to using our sanctions authorities to respond to the DPRK’s continued development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles,” she said.

“I also commend Japan for their actions today against the DPRK, and stand ready to continue to work together to counter the DPRK’s continued threatening behavior.”