Treasury escalates pressure on North Korea with more sanctions

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the sanctions against Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol on Tuesday.

The Treasurer also said that the two officials were listed in a new United Nations Security Council resolution sanctioning North Korea last Friday.

The department also sanctioned Ri Pyong Chol, who it said was "reported to be a key official" in the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have soared as the isolated regime has continued to test atomic and intercontinental ballistic missiles in defiance of the global community, most recently on Nov 29.

Over the past few months Kim and U.S President Donald Trump also engaged in incessant verbal spat, with the latter branding the former as "rocket man", and the North Korean leader calling Trump a "mentally-deranged dotard" in response.

Solid-fuel missiles can be fired on shorter notice, as they do not have to be filled with liquid fuel prior to launch. Any of their property within USA jurisdiction is blocked and American citizens are generally banned from engaging in transactions with them.

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In response, North Korea's official official KCNA news agency said: "The United States, completely terrified at our accomplishment of the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, is getting more and more frenzied in the moves to impose the harshest-ever sanctions and pressure on our country". Ri and Kim accompanied North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during the launch of the Hwasong-14 on July 4th and 28th, as well as September's launch of the Hwasong-12, which flew over Japan. It said the move was part of a "maximum pressure campaign".

Chang said North Korea's use of a gimbal system, that permits each engine to be placed at specific angles, shows new mastery, according to the report.

Speaking to the full, Hyten said North Korea now has the capability to deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile and hinted it's only time before they can do it with a nuclear warhead.

On Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously passed new, US-drafted sanctions that will restrict oil supplies vital for North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

Just days ago, stricter United Nations sanctions were meted out against North Korea, something Pyongyang angrily branded an "act of war".

Kim Jong Sik is considered the mastermind of North Korea's missile program.