US Tightens Screws on 2 of Kim's Most Trusted Aides

Treasury sanctions top officials, bans them from dealing with US citizens
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 27, 2017 4:08 AM CST
Treasury Sanctions 2 Top N. Korea Aides
In this photo distributed on May 11, 2016, by the North Korean government, Ri Pyong Chol, member of the political bureau of the Central Committee at the Workers' Party Congress, poses for a photo.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

The US Treasury Department has issued sanctions against two officials it describes as "key leaders of North Korea's unlawful weapons programs." The sanctions against Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol block them from any property or interests in property within US jurisdiction and prohibit them from transactions with American citizens, the AP reports. Treasury says the men are senior officials in North Korea's Munitions Industry Department. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the sanctions are part of the United States' "maximum pressure campaign" to isolate North Korea and "achieve a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula."

The two men are among Kim Jong Un's most trusted aides and are often photographed with the leader at missile launches, the BBC reports. The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions against North Korea on Friday in response to its latest launch of a ballistic missile, which Pyongyang says is capable of reaching the US mainland. North Korea called the sanctions an "act of war" and warned that Security Council members would pay a heavy price. (According to a South Korean TV channel, a North Korean soldier who defected to the South is immune to anthrax.)

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