In efforts to further restrict and punish the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea for their continued development of weapons programs, the United States Treasury blacklisted nine companies and government institutions on Thursday, including two Russian firms, and three individuals, Reuters reported.
The new round of sanctions targets the DPRK's military, technology, coal, and financial channels, and will prohibit the targeted companies, and individuals from engaging in business transactions with U.S. citizens, and will also freeze any assets held in the U.S.
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, indicated that the measures would only further damage the already rapidly deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russia, and that diplomatic measures would be taken in retaliation, Reuters reported.
The two targeted Russian firms, Independent Petroleum Company, and Ardis-Bearings Llc, are accused of acting as suppliers' contractors for the DPRK's weapons development program.
The DPRK has tested nine ballistic missiles this year, including one on Monday which flew 280 miles before crashing into the ocean.
Sanctions were also placed on North Korean zinc company, the Korea Zinc Industrial Group, and the Korea Computer Center, which it said is a state-run information technology research center that the Treasury believes to have offices in Germany, China, Syria, and India.
Increased pressure from the U.S. along with Japan, and South Korea has ramped up tensions on the Korean peninsula, as the DPRK has refused to stop developing missile capabilities. DPRK officials maintain that the continued development of missile technology is a necessary defense and deterance against possible foreign invasion
In spite of the increased tension with the DPRK, the South Korean President Moon Jae-in is beginning to pursue a limited engagement policy, exemplified in May when the government approved civilian-exchanges across the border to treat malaria.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed fear of the alleged ability of the DPRK to strike the U.S. with a nuclear missile. Although tensions have escalated this year, this is not the first time the DPRK has been slapped with sanctions for its missile program. In 2006, the U.N Security Council imposed major sanctions after five nuclear tests and two long range ballistic missile tests.