The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed sanctions on five North Koreans based in Russia and China over their alleged ties to Pyongyang's weapons-development programs, following recent ballistic missile tests by the secretive country.
The actions are part of ongoing U.S. efforts to counter North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and target its "continued use of overseas representatives to illegally procure goods for weapons," Brian Nelson, undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a press release.
"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," the official added, referring to the acronym of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.
The five individuals who will face asset freezes in the United States include Russia-based Choe Myong Hyon, a chief representative of a subordinate entity of the Second Academy of Natural Sciences, a North Korean weapons research and development organization.
Choe has allegedly worked to procure telecommunications-related equipment from Russia for North Korean companies, the department said.
The four others are China-based representatives of the academy's subordinate organizations who have been involved in procuring software, chemicals and other goods for North Korea.
The Treasury Department said the sanctions followed six North Korean ballistic missile launches since September 2021, noting that each violated multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.
"The United States remains committed to seeking dialogue and diplomacy with the DPRK, but will continue to address the threat posed by the DPRK's unlawful weapons programs to the United States and the international community," it said.
North Korea test-fired missiles twice this month, claiming both involved hypersonic weapons technology. The second missile test on Tuesday was watched by leader Kim Jong Un, according to state-run media.
In a related move, the State Department imposed sanctions on a North Korean national, a Russian national and a Russian entity for allegedly having engaged in activities or transactions that have materially contributed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery by North Korea.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, meanwhile, said in a Twitter post that the United States is proposing additional sanctions be imposed by the world body against North Korea following the missile launches.
But the U.N. Security Council is unlikely to be able to endorse the proposal as China and Russia have called for the lifting of some international sanctions on North Korea citing its economic difficulties.