By Jennifer Hansler, CNN
The US Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed sanctions on three companies and two individuals for “illicitly” generating income for the North Korean government.
The sanctions come after months of internationally condemned missile launches by Pyongyang — the most recent of which took place last month.
North Korea’s “unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs threaten international security and regional stability,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement. “The United States remains committed to targeting the regime’s global illicit networks that generate revenue for these destabilizing activities.”
According to a news release from the Treasury, the agency sanctioned Chilsong Trading Corporation and Korea Paekho Trading Corporation “for being agencies, instrumentalities, or controlled entities of the Government of North Korea or the Workers’ Party of Korea.”
“Chilsong is subordinate to the Government of North Korea, which uses trading companies like Chilsong to earn foreign currency, collect intelligence, and provide cover status for intelligence operatives” and “Paekho has generated funds for the DPRK government since the 1980s by conducting art and construction projects on behalf of regimes throughout the Middle East and Africa,” the news release said.
Wednesday’s sanctions also targeted Hwang Kil Su and Pak Hwa Song, and their Democratic Republic of the Congo-based company Congo Aconde SARL for generating revenue for the North Korean government.
In a separate statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that Wednesday’s “action further aligns U.S. sanctions with our international partners.”
“The European Union previously designated Chilsong, Paekho, Pak, and Hwang for engaging in sanctions evasion and being responsible for supporting the DPRK’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” he said.
In mid-February, North Korea said it conducted a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), its third known test of the long-range weapon in less than a year. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that the missile landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
In remarks at the Munich Security Conference the day of that missile test, Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin all condemned the launch.
Blinken called it “yet again a provocative act by North Korea in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.”
“We’ve made clear over many, many months that we were prepared to engage with North Korea without any preconditions. The response from North Korea has been missile launch after missile launch,” he said. “We have been very clear that our commitment to the security of our close allies and partners — South Korea and Japan — is ironclad. And beyond making that clear, we have been working very closely together in full coordination to take appropriate steps to strengthen even more our deterrence and defense capacity.”
“And so the result of these actions by North Korea is simply to even further solidify the work that we do together, the alliance that we share, and our commitment to the defense of our partners and allies,” Blinken said.
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CNN’s Yoonjung Seo, Brad Lendon and Junko Ogura contributed to this report.