December 9, 2015 / 1:36 AM / 4 years ago

U.S. sanctions North Korea's rocket command for ties to weapons program

Missiles are taken on trucks past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang in this October 10, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/James Pearson

(Reuters) - The United States added North Korea’s Strategic Rocket Force to its sanctions list for ties to weapons development and illicit finance activities, the Treasury Department said on Tuesday.

Treasury also listed officials of previously sanctioned North Korean banks for activities tied to the North’s weapons proliferation activities, it said.

The additional sanctions are designed to stop the North from evading existing U.S. and U.N. sanctions and prevent Pyongyang from accessing the U.S. financial system, the Treasury Department said in a statement.

“As a result of today’s action, any property or interest in property of the designated persons in the possession of U.S. persons or within U.S. jurisdiction must be frozen,” the statement said.

The extent of the entities’ financial holdings held in the United States being targeted was not immediately clear.

Treasury said the Strategic Rocket Force was responsible for a series of ballistic missile launches in 2014 including two medium-range Rodong-class missiles in March last year.

The North is under various U.N. Security Council sanctions for its missile and nuclear tests, which ban trade and financing that aid the country’s weapons programs and any tests that involve the use of ballistic missile technology.

Six individuals who are officials of the previously sanctioned Tanchon Commercial Bank and the Foreign Trade Bank were added to the sanctions list.

Three shipping companies with ties to a previously sanctioned firm involved in arms shipments were also added, Treasury said.

Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Stephen Coates

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