The United States has imposed sanctions on three senior North Korean officials connected to the country's weapons programs after Pyongyang's latest and largest intercontinental ballistic missile test last month.
North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, earlier this week, promoted dozens of military officials working for the country's weapons and missiles development program.
The promotions came following reports that Pyongyang had fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland.
On Thursday, the US Treasury Department said it had imposed sanctions on North Korean officials connected to the country's weapons and missiles development program.
Treasury’s under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement that the sanctions targeted individuals who played a key role in Pyongyang's weapons and missile programs.
The individuals named by the Treasury were Jon Il Ho and Yu Jin, who were officials in North Korea's Munitions Industry, and Kim Su Gil, a former director of the Korean People's Army General Political Bureau.
The sanctions freeze any US-based assets and bar dealings with of these persons, but appear to be largely symbolic with no real impact on the country's weapons and missiles development program.
Meantime, decades of US-led sanctions have failed to halt North Korea's increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear weapon program, which Pyongyang says it needs to defend its nation against US aggression.
On Nov. 18, North Korea conducted an ICBM test which the US claimed was counterproductive to Washington’s efforts to reduce tensions, insisting that Pyongyang should instead engage in diplomacy.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Washington was committed to using pressure and diplomacy to entice North Korea into giving up its nuclear arsenal.
He noted, however, that the administration had no illusions in this regard and continued to hold Pyongyang accountable.
In the meantime, North Korea has condemned all US sanctions targeting Pyongyang, warning that such measures only fuel more hostility.
Last week, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, lashed out at the administration of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol for seeking sanctions against Pyongyang.
In a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim's sister branded Yoon and his cabinet a "faithful dog" to the United States and called them a bunch of "idiots" who are parroting Washington, warning that using sanctions and pressure against Pyongyang would only add to the North's "hostility and anger."
Nuclear-armed North Korea has tested a record number of missiles this year, and officials in Seoul and Washington say the North has completed technical preparations to conduct a nuclear weapon test for the first time since 2017.
Meanwhile, amid the heightened tensions in the region, Washington and Seoul have markedly stepped up their joint military exercises near the North's maritime border and airspace. North Korea considers the US military drills with South Korea to be exercises for invasion.