Several senior North Korean officials faced sanctions by the US and its allies on Friday following North Korea's latest and largest intercontinental ballistic missile test last month.
The US Treasury targeted members of the Worker Party's central committee. The individuals named in the sanctions included Jon Il Ho and Yu Jin, who are the director and vice director of the Workers Party of Korea, respectively, along with another central committee member, Kim Su Gil. Any assets the three officials have in the US will be frozen and they will be prohibited from conducting any type of business.
Washington accused the trio of playing "leading roles" in North Korea's "unlawful" armaments programs.
All three had already been designated for sanctions by the European Union in April.
Shortly after the US, South Korea announced its own measures. It, however, named eight individuals and seven organizations. Japan's foreign ministry also named three entities and one individual for new sanctions.
Rumors of nuclear test
The latest sanctions follow North Korea's ramped up efforts to improve its nuclear weapons and missile capabilities, increasing pressure on Washington and Seoul. It has launched over 60 missiles this year and many analysts speculate that Pyongyang may resume nuclear weapons testing, which has been suspended since 2017.
US and South Korean officials have also said there are signs that the North is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since September 2017.
In September, North Korea's parliament passed a law that authorized preemptive nuclear attacks even in non-war situations.
mf/dj (AP, Reuters)