(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from Department of State spokesperson Ned Price in paras 10-14; ADDS photo)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Yonhap) -- The United States said Wednesday that it is designating six North Korean individuals related to North Korea's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs.
The Department of Treasury said it is designating five North Korean individuals -- one based in Russia and four in China -- for illegally procuring materials for the North's WMD and ballistic missile programs.
It said the State Department was designating an additional North Korean individual based in Russia for a similar reason.
"Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) individuals responsible for procuring goods for the DPRK's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile-related programs," the department said in a press release, referring to North Korea by its official name.
"These actions are in line with U.S. efforts to prevent the advancement of the DPRK's WMD and ballistic missile programs and impede attempts by Pyongyang to proliferate related technologies. They also follow the DPRK's six ballistic missile launches since September 2021, each of which violated multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions," it added.
North Korea claims to have successfully test fired a new hypersonic missile in September, a second last Wednesday and a third test yet again this week.
It said the overseas North Korean representatives are responsible for "illegally" procuring goods for weapons.
"The DPRK's latest missile launches are further evidence that it continues to advance prohibited programs despite the international community's calls for diplomacy and denuclearization," Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson was quoted as saying.
The State Department also designated a North Korean national and one Russian national, along with a Russian entity -- Parsek LLC -- for having engaged in activities that have "materially contributed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery by DPRK," the treasury said.
State department spokesperson Ned Price said the designations sought to constrain North Korea's weapons programs.
"These are important these are important measures to constrain North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear program," he said in a press briefing.
The department spokesperson urged North Korea to return to denuclearization talks, noting U.S. sanctions and designations, as well as U.N. sanctions, on the North will continue to remain in place.
"It's important that the international community send a strong unified message that the DPRK must hold provocations, it must abide by its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions and engage in sustained intensive negotiations," he told the briefing.
"These U.N. Security Council resolutions, the U.S. designations and sanctions, they will remain in effect and we urge all U.N. member states to fulfill their obligations under those resolutions," he added.
Price on Tuesday said the U.S. has a number of tools to hold North Korea accountable for its actions and that it will continue to call on those tools.
He, however, said the U.S. also remains committed to dialogue and diplomacy with North Korea and that it will be ready to engage with the North whenever Pyongyang is willing to do so.
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