US Sanctions Two North Korean Missile Developers

The US has announced sanctions against two North Korean missile developers. The US Treasury revealed that the two officials sanctioned are Ri Pyong-chol and Kim Jong-sik. The men are said to be key leaders of the country’s missile program, which has already led to many sanctions.

The sanctions against the officials come just days after the UN Security Council approved sanctions against North Korea over its latest missile test. North Korea has described the sanctions as an act of war.

North Korea has continued its missile tests, despite the many sanctions targeting exports, imports and officials behind the program. The new sanctions against the officials freeze the assets they may have in the United States.

The sanctions last week limit North Korea to half a million barrels of petrol products and four million oil barrels a year. North Korean citizens working in other countries will also have to return in the next 24 months, preventing the country from obtaining foreign currency. The previous sanctions had lowered the oil barrels to eight million a year.

North Korea has reportedly fired 23 missiles since February. The latest test, which took place in November, led to the sanctions announced last week. The missile landed near Japanese waters.

The two officials have been pictured alongside North Korea’s leader during the missile tests. The country has increased its tests this year and while not all have been successful, the tests have raised tensions. A Reuters investigation said a few months ago that the men were picked for the program by North Korea’s leader. The report also mentions that Kim Jong-sik is a rocket scientist while Ri Pyong-chol is a former air force general.

North Korea has been hit with many sanctions in recent months. China, which accounts for more than 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, banned coal imports this year. It later extended the ban to seafood, iron and iron ore. China has also ordered North Korean companies operating in the country to close. At the time, it was announced that the companies had 120 days to close. In September, the UN Security Council approved tough sanctions against the country. The sanctions brought a ban to the country’s textile exports and limited oil imports. The US initially proposed a total oil ban for North Korea but the sanctions were later reduced to receive the support of Russia and China.