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US Renews Missile Sanctions Against North Korea

The United States has formally renewed sanctions against the North Korean government and a company suspected of missile proliferation activities. As VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington, the move comes one day before Six Party talks over North Korea's nuclear program are set to begin in Beijing.

The actions against the North Korean government and the Korea Mining and Development Corporation were published in Wednesday's Federal Register, a daily compilation of U.S. government documents of public interest.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Washington has already sanctioned the North Korean company several times in recent years for proliferating missile technology.

"The net effect of these sanctions is really no change in the existing status here, but again, it has been published in the [Federal] Register," said Tom Casey. "And again, it is an indication, once again, of the serious concerns that exist of the behavior by North Korean entities, with respect to these kinds of technology transfers."

The sanctions extend for two more years a ban on all U.S. public or private procurement or assistance to the North Korean company or government.

Casey said the U.S. move is also meant to send a warning to, in his words, "anyone out there in the international community that might be doing business with this company."

North Korea's suspected proliferation activities took on new urgency following recent allegations that Pyongyang may be exporting nuclear technology to Syria.

Although Casey did not give specifics, he said the suspected North Korean missile transfers in this case did not involve Syria. The listing in the Federal Register included two companies from Iran in the sanctions notification. They are Aerospace Industries Organization and Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group.

The State Department spokesman added that the timing of the missile proliferation sanctions against North Korea are not related to the Six Party talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

"Any time that evidence comes to our attention, that a transfer of these specific kinds of technology involved here has happened, then there is a legal requirement for us to acknowledge that and to place the company in question, as well as the country, in most cases, under these kinds of sanctions," he said.

The next round of Six Party talks are set to begin Thursday in Beijing.