The United States has imposed sanctions on two North Korean officials for their role in Pyongyang's ballistic missile program.
A Treasury Department statement said Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol are "key leaders of North Korea's unlawful weapons programs."
"Kim Jong Sik reportedly is a key figure in North Korea’s ballistic missile development, including efforts to switch from liquid to solid fuel, and Ri Pyong Chol is reported to be a key official involved in North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile development," the Treasury Department said.
“Treasury is targeting leaders of North Korea’s ballistic missile programs, as part of our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the DPRK [North Korea] and achieve a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. “These actions follow Friday’s United Nations Security Council Resolution, which imposed strong new sanctions on North Korea further shutting down its ability to raise illicit funds.”
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday limiting the amount of gasoline and diesel North Korea can import and tightening inspections of ships suspected of illegally carrying banned items to or from North Korea.
Meanwhile, Russia says its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his American counterpart Tuesday that "Washington's aggressive rhetoric" has heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.
In a phone call between Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Lavrov called U.S. rhetoric unacceptable, according to Moscow. The two top diplomats also discussed further steps to resolving the crisis in Syria as well as the situation in Ukraine.
The U.S. State Department did not immediately comment on the call.
North Korea has significantly stepped up its nuclear and missile programs in 2017, launching a newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) called a Hwasong-15 last month. North Korea claims the missile is capable of delivering nuclear warheads anywhere in the continental United States. The test was Pyongyang’s third ICMB test this year and its 20th ballistic missile launch of this year.
Earlier in the year, U.S. President Donald Trump referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man", fueling tensions between the two countries. The U.S. has increased sanctions on North Korea following missile tests.
Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.