The United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions against three North Korean entities alleged to have links to that country's ballistic missile industry. The move comes in response to Pyongyang's failed missile launch last month.
The April 13 launch lasted only a few minutes before the rocket split apart and rained down into the Yellow Sea. But it drew the immediate rebuke of the U.N. Security Council, which said it would expand and tighten sanctions against Pyongyang for its violation of existing Council resolutions forbidding such activity.
Diplomats said this week that the United States, European Union, Japan and South Korea had proposed a list of about 40 companies and goods to designate for sanctions, but that China agreed to only three of them.
U.N. Security Council sanction committees operate by consensus, so all 15 council members must agree to any additions or deletions from sanctions lists.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the addition of the three entities is "very significant." "These new sanctions include the designation of and the freezing of assets of three very significant North Korean entities very much involved in their illicit missile and nuclear programs," she said.
The three companies are the Amroggang Development Banking Corporation, Green Pine Associated Corporation and Korea Heungjin Trading Company.
The sanctions committee says that Amroggang is involved in financing ballistic missile sales, while Green Pine is believed to be responsible for half of North Korea's exports of arms and related materiel. Korea Heungjin has been used to procure equipment with applications in missile design.
All three entities also have links to Iran's ballistic missile program or its defense-related firms. Iran is under a separate Security Council sanctions regime for its suspected nuclear program.
In addition to sanctions, Ambassador Rice explained other measures to be implemented by the sanctions committee.
"It also includes the updating of the missile technology control regime list and the nuclear suppliers group list, which we view as very important to tightening and keeping current the important regime against North Korea, and it also entails a new work plan for the panel of experts," she said. "Taken together we view this as a strong and credible set of new sanctions by the 1718 committee and we are pleased with that result as well."
She said the imposition of new sanction and updates of these lists will increase North Korea's isolation and make it harder for Pyongyang to acquire technology and progress with its prohibited programs.
North Korea also conducted rocket launches in 2006 and 2009. Both of those events were followed by nuclear tests, leaving many observers speculating about whether Pyongyang will attempt another one in the near future.