| UNITED NATIONS
UNITED NATIONS A U.N. Security Council sanctions committee on Wednesday added three North Korean state companies to a U.N. blacklist of firms banned from international trade in response to Pyongyang's rocket launch last month.
The decision by the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee came after China consented to sanctions on the trio of companies. It falls far short of the roughly 40 firms the United States, European Union, South Korea and Japan had wanted to blacklist after Pyongyang's launch.
The newly blacklisted firms are "very significant North Korean entities" involved in Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said.
"The committee's package of new measures constitutes a serious and credible response to North Korea's provocation," she said in a statement. "These measures will increase North Korea's isolation and make it harder for Pyongyang to move forward with its illicit programs."
China, North Korea's protector on the Security Council and a permanent veto-wielding member, had initially consented to sanction only two new companies but eventually agreed to blacklist one more firm, council diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The three companies are Green Pine Conglomerate, Amroggang Development Banking Corporation and Korea Heungjin Trading Company.
Western diplomats attempted to play down the fact that Beijing had vetoed the vast majority of their proposed listings. Rice said the "committee's strong and united response shows that the Security Council is determined that there be consequences for this provocation and any future North Korean violation."
U.N. sanctions committees work on the basis of consensus, which means any individual council member can block agreement.
NORTH KOREAN ARMS DEALERS
Last month the council adopted a "presidential statement" that strongly condemned North Korea's April 13 rocket launch, called for adding names to the list of those hit by existing U.N. sanctions and warned Pyongyang of further consequences if it carried out another missile launch or nuclear test.
Amroggang is a Tanchon Commercial Bank-related company managed by Tanchon officials, the U.N. said in a statement. Tanchon was blacklisted by the Security Council committee in 2009 because it is North Korea's main financial entity for the sale of arms and ballistic missiles.
It said Green Pine has taken over many of the activities of the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, which was blacklisted in 2009. The Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation is North Korea's main arms dealer.
Green Pine is responsible for about half North Korea's exports of arms and related material, the U.N. statement said. It produces maritime military craft such as submarines, military boats and missile systems, and has exported torpedoes and technical assistance to Iranian defense-related firms.
The Korea Heungjin Trading Company is used by the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation for trading purposes, it said.
The U.N. North Korea blacklist includes individuals facing international travel bans and asset freezes, companies whose assets are to be frozen and goods that North Korea is not allowed to export or import.
Prior to Wednesday's additions the North Korean sanctions list included eight companies and five individuals. North Korea is barred from importing nuclear and ballistic-missile technology as well as luxury goods.
The committee's move on Wednesday also expanded the list of missile-related goods North Korea is not allowed to import, the U.N. statement said.
The Security Council imposed two rounds of sanctions on Pyongyang after its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.
(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Xavier Briand)