Treasury Department sanctions North Korean firm, individuals with alleged ties to nuclear weapons program

By Damian Paletta

A man watches a TV news program in Seoul in February showing photos of North Korea’s “Pukguksong-2” missile launch. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

President Trump’s administration issued sanctions Friday against a North Korean business and 11 North Korean nationals who it said were tied to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program and the financial networks that support it.

The sanctions, brought by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, prohibit U.S. companies from dealing with the entities and also freeze any assets the entities have that are held by a U.S. bank.

Trump has said the United States should strike a tougher posture with North Korea, after years of failed efforts by the U.S. government to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

[North Korea might be preparing for another nuclear test, satellite images suggest]

“Today’s sanctions are aimed at disrupting the networks and methods that the government of North Korea employs to fund its unlawful nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement Friday.

As North Korea continues testing nuclear weapons, U.S. officials believe the isolated, totalitarian nation is working to develop technology that would allow it to put a nuclear weapon on a long-range missile that could reach the United States. New commercial satellite images show that North Korea could be preparing for another nuclear weapons test at an underground site.

North Korea is already heavily sanctioned by the U.S. government, and it’s unclear how the new sanctions would prompt Pyongyang to change its behavior. Trump has said that neighboring China must do more to deter North Korea. That issue will likely come up when Trump meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week.

Treasury said in a statement that the new sanctions will be imposed against North Korea-based Paeksol Trading …read more