The Biden administration has issued the first sanctions against North Korea in response to its recent ballistic missile test.
North Korea has claimed both of its missile tests held in the past week were successful. The missiles reportedly used a hypersonic glide vehicle released from a rocket booster before hitting a target 620 miles off the coast.
Leader Kim Jong Un reportedly said the missiles test “would greatly increase the country’s nuclear ‘war deterrent,’” per Fox News.
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned five North Korean officials – none of who currently reside in North Korea.
Four cited officials are based in China, while the fifth resides in Russia.
They are accused of providing money, goods, or services to the authoritarian nation’s Second Academy of Natural Sciences, which is believed to be involved in its military defense program.
“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,” said Brian Nelson, chief of terrorism and financial intelligence for the Treasury. He referred to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Any assets the officials maintain under American jurisdiction will be frozen due to the sanction. Additionally, all Americans or United States companies are prohibited from conducting business with the accused North Koreans. Those who violate this regulation can face legal penalties.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he believed the missile tests could be “North Korea trying to get attention.”
“It’s done that in the past. They’ll probably continue to do that,” he said in an interview with MSNBC on Jan. 13.
He also said that the U.S. would be willing to hold talks with North Korea.
“We made clear that we were prepared to engage the North Koreans to sit down with no preconditions to see if we could find a way forward with them at the table, toward the total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Blinken said.
“The response we’ve seen… has been renewed missile tests, something that is profoundly destabilizing, it’s dangerous and it contravenes a whole host of UN Security Council resolutions,” he added.
The Biden administration has made several efforts to resume denuclearization talks, all of which North Korea has ignored.
“US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said late on Wednesday that the United States is proposing the United Nations impose new sanctions on North Korea for six missile launches conducted by Pyongyang since September 21,” reports Devdiscourse.
The U.N. Security Council sanctioned North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006. Successive sanctions have been more stringent. In 2018, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that all North Korean exports had been cut off – as had 90% of its trade – as a result.