WASHINGTON, March 11 (Xinhua) -- The Obama administration on Monday slapped fresh sanctions on a primary foreign exchange bank and four individuals in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for their alleged role in the Asian country's nuclear and missile programs.
The Department of Treasury blacklisted the Foreign Trade Bank ( FTB) in Pyongyang and Paek Se-Bong, chairman of DPRK's Second Economic Committee (SEC), while the State Department moved against Pak To-Chun, Chu Kyu-Chang and O Kuk-Ryol, senior officials of the DPRK government.
"North Korea uses FTB to facilitate transactions on behalf of actors linked to its proliferation network, which is under increasing pressure from recent international sanctions," David Cohen, the Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
"The United States will take strong measures to protect its financial system from this type of illicit activity, and we urge financial institutions around the world to be particularly wary of the risks of doing business with FTB," he added.
The Treasury described SEC, put under sanctions by the State Department in August 2010, as an institution that oversees the production of DPRK's ballistic missiles and directs the activities of the Korea Mining Development Corporation, Pyongyang's alleged premier arms dealer.
SEC's chairman, Paek Se-Bong, is an alternate member of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and a member of the country's National Defense Commission, the Treasury said.
In another development, the State Department on Monday designated Pak To-Chun, Chu Kyu-Chang and O Kuk-Ryol for their alleged direct links to the country's proliferation activities.
Pak To-Chun is head of the Munitions Industry Department and a full member of WPK's Political Bureau as well as member of the National Defense Commission, Chu Kyu-Chang directs the Munitions Industry Department and is an alternate member of KWP's Political Bureau, while O Kuk-Ryol is a vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, the State Department said.
The Treasury moved against China-based representatives of the Korea Mining Development Corporation and Tanchon Commercial Bank on Thursday, the same day the UN Security Council passed unanimously resolution 2094 condemning DPRK's third nuclear test on Feb. 12.
DPRK cuts hotline with S. Korea
SEOUL, March 11 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has reportedly severed an inter-Korean communication hotline following its threat to do so last week, the unification ministry said here Monday.
The ministry said the DPRK seems to have cut the emergency link set up to deal with any contingency along the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, which separates the two Koreas, Yonhap News Agency reported. Full story
S. Korea, U.S. start annual drill amid DPRK threats
SEOUL, March 11 (Xinhua) -- South Korea and the United States kicked off their annual joint military exercises on Monday, after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s supreme military command announced it would scrap the Korean War Armistice Agreement, in response to the drill, which is scheduled to run through March 21. Full story
DPRK threatens severer countermeasures against UN resolution
PYONGYANG, March 9 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Saturday it would take severer measures to counter the latest UN resolution on it.
"The world will clearly see what permanent position the DPRK will reinforce as a nuclear weapons state and satellite launcher as a result of the U.S. attitude of prodding the UNSC into cooking up the 'resolution,'" the official KCNA news agency quoted a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement. Full story