US hits North Korean officials with sanctions after missile test
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Wednesday slapped sanctions on five North Korean officials in its first response to Pyongyang's latest ballistic missile test.
The Treasury Department announced it was imposing penalties on the officials over their roles in obtaining equipment and technology for the North's missile programs. In addition, the State Department ordered sanctions against another North Korean, a Russian man and a Russian company for their broader support of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction activities.
The moves came just hours after North Korea said its leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a successful flight test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday that he claimed would greatly increase the country's nuclear "war deterrent."
One of the five North Koreans targeted by Treasury is based in Russia, while the other four are based in China. All are accused of providing money, goods or services to North Korea's Second Academy of Natural Sciences, which Treasury says is heavily involved in the country's military defense programs.
"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 Treasury's chief of terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson. He referred to the North by the acronym of its official name: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The sanctions freeze any assets that the targets have in U.S. jurisdictions, bar Americans from doing business with them and subject foreign companies and individuals to potential penalties for transactions with them.
Shortly before the announcement, North Korea's state news agency reported that the latest missile launch involved a hypersonic glide vehicle, which after its release from the rocket booster demonstrated "glide jump flight" and "corkscrew maneuvering" before hitting a sea target 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) away.
Photos released by the agency showed a missile mounted with a pointed cone-shaped payload soaring into the sky while leaving a trail of orange flames, with Kim watching from a small cabin with top officials, including his sister Kim Yo Jong.
The launch was North Korea's second test of its purported hypersonic missile in a week, a type of weaponry it first tested in September, as Kim Jong Un continues a defiant push to expand his nuclear weapons capabilities in the face of international sanctions, pandemic-related difficulties and deadlocked diplomacy with the United States.