US levels new sanctions after North Korea missile launches

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Friday targeted two Russian banks under new sanctions for alleged support for North Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The sanctions come after what the United States said were three new ballistic missile launches by North Korea on Tuesday, including an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The launches came after President Joe Biden completed a trip to Asia during which he underscored Washington’s commitment to defending its allies against the nuclear threat from the North.

The United States says launches this week brought North Korea’s total for this year to 23, as the isolated country strives to develop and expand the range of its nuclear and missile programs.

Friday’s sanctions targets include two Russian banks, Far Eastern and Sputnik, which the US says do business with US-sanctioned North Korean entities. Bank Sputnik also helped North Korea arrange payments for the use of Russian satellite services, the Treasury Department said when announcing the sanctions.

The new sanctions also target a North Korean man based in Belarus who the United States says helped generate funds for missile launches, and a trading company.

China and Russia on Thursday vetoed a U.S.-sponsored UN Security Council resolution that would have imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea for its string of intercontinental ballistic missile launches that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

Thursday’s vote represented the first serious division among the five permanent members with veto power from the UN’s most powerful body over a North Korea sanctions resolution.

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