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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. efforts to enforce U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea after its nuclear test in May are gaining growing support from countries and banks, a senior American official said on Thursday.
Ambassador Phil Goldberg, the U.S. coordinator for implementation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, said efforts to inspect North Korean vessels for illegal weapons and to curb financial transactions by Pyongyang entities suspected of proliferation were winning widespread backing.
"We have found great support among the five parties in the six-party talks, the U.N. Security Council, the United Nations more generally, and regional organizations and fora," he told reporters in Washington.
Goldberg said the goal of the sanctions was to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs as it had pledged in six-nation talks involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States.
"There is a clear path for North Korea if they want to rejoin that process. Otherwise, these measures continue, and they continue until there are those irreversible steps" toward nuclear disarmament, he said.
Goldberg has visited China, Malaysia, Russia, and the United Nations to discuss sanctions implementation. He said he would make a similar trip this month to Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and possibly China.
During the visits the United States has presented suspicions about North Korean financial transactions to governments and to banking authorities.
"When we visited other countries, they've been very interested in those advisories. They have sent advisories around to their banks," said Goldberg.
"The word is out," he said.
"We think that there is a heightened sense of scrutiny and, hopefully, transparency," added Goldberg.
On Tuesday the U.S. Treasury Department slapped sanctions on North Korea's Korea Kwangson Banking Corp for its role in helping three Pyongyang-linked firms accused of proliferating missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
The bank would face a freeze of any assets in the United States and be banned from doing business with U.S. financial institutions, it said.
North Korea came under a fresh round of U.N. Security Council sanctions after it tested a nuclear weapon in May, the isolated communist state's second test since 2006. The United States and its allies have been trying since the early 1990s to halt a North Korean nuclear program estimated to have created enough plutonium for as many eight atomic bombs.
Editing by Eric Beech