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Iran Press TV

US imposes new sanctions against North Korea, Chinese firms aiding Pyongyang

Iran Press TV

Wed Jan 24, 2018 06:03PM

The United States has imposed new sanctions on North Korea and Chinese firms and individuals that support Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

The US Treasury Department said Wednesday it is targeting nine entities, 16 individuals and six vessels in several countries that finance or support North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

"Treasury continues to systematically target individuals and entities financing the Kim regime and its weapons programs, including officials complicit in North Korean sanctions evasion schemes," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The US Treasury also imposed sanctions on officials belonging to the Workers Party of Korea who are operating in China, Russia and Georgia's Abkhazia region and urged those countries to expel the individuals.

According to US officials, Russia quietly boosted economic support for North Korea last year.

"We are sanctioning additional oil, shipping, and trading companies that continue to provide a lifeline to North Korea to fuel this regime's nuclear ambitions and destabilizing activities," Mnuchin added.

The action enables the United States to block any assets held by the individuals or firms in the United States and prohibits US citizens from dealing with any of the listed companies or individuals, the Treasury said.

A Treasury official said earlier on Wednesday that Washington has called on Hong Kong and Beijing to step up measures against North Korea.

Tensions have been running high between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

North Korea has been under a raft of harsh UN sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear tests as well as multiple rocket and missile launches. Pyongyang has firmly defended its military program as a deterrent against the hostile policies of the US and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.

Last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson threatened North Korea with a military response unless it abandons its nuclear weapons program.

The US has moved more warships and aircraft to the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks, expanding its military presence there as South Korea prepares to host North Korean athletes in Winter Olympics next month.

US President Donald Trump's threats to "totally destroy" North Korea justify Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs that it insists are for self-defense, according to analysts.

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