U.S. sanctions 5 North Koreans over weapons programs following missile launches

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  • The Biden administration approved five North Koreans for their work in developing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile-related programs.
  • The sanctions come on the heels of at least two known North Korean ballistic missile tests.
  • Four of the North Korean nationals are based in China, while one is based in Russia.

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WASHINGTON – The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is sanctioning five North Koreans for their work in developing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile-related programs for Pyongyang.

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The sanctions come on the heels of at least two known North Korean ballistic missile tests.

The most recent test came on Monday, the second launch in a week. According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, it originated from the northern province of Jagang and traveled about 430 miles before falling into the East Sea.

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“Today’s action, part of the United States’ ongoing efforts to combat weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, targets the continued use of foreign representatives to illegally purchase goods for weapons,” Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The DPRK’s latest missile launch is further evidence that it is pursuing restricted programs despite calls from the international community for diplomacy and nuclear disarmament,” he said.

The nominees are:

  • Cho Myong-hyeon, a Russian-based DPRK citizen
  • China’s Chief Representative Sim Kwang Sok, who has worked for the purchase of steel alloys
  • Kim Song-hun, a China-based representative who has worked to procure software and chemicals
  • Kang Chol Hak, a representative of China who bought goods from Chinese companies
  • Pyeon Kwang Chol, a dubious cover company deputy representative for the second Academy of Natural Sciences-subordinate organization based in China, where he was first assigned to work in 2014

Last week, Pyongyang said it had successfully tested a sophisticated hypersonic missile.

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday that the US was still assessing whether the test was of a hypersonic missile that could be maneuvered.

All ballistic missile tests by North Korea are banned under UN Security Council resolutions.

The missile test, which follows a series of weapons tests in 2021, underscores third-generation North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s ambition to expand military capabilities amid stalled nuclear talks with the United States.

Under his rule, the reclusive state has conducted its most powerful nuclear test, launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile and threatened to send missiles into waters near US territory of Guam.

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