US hits Chinese and Russian firms over North Korea
The US has imposed sanctions on a dozen Russian and Chinese companies and individuals it accuses of helping North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
Earlier this month, members of the UN Security Council, including Russia and China, voted for further sanctions against Pyongyang.
The US Treasury said the move would “increase pressure” on North Korea.
China responded swiftly, calling on the US to “immediately correct its mistake” of punishing its firms.
The US Office of Foreign Assets Control designated 10 companies and six individuals in its sanctions.
“[The] Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, and isolating them from the American financial system,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
- How advanced is North Korea’s nuclear programme?
- A conflicted island at the centre of a firestorm
- Sons confirm death of US defector to N Korea
The action means American individuals and companies are no longer permitted to do business with these firms.
A series of missile tests by Pyongyang has increased tensions between North Korea and the US, with both sides engaged in a heated exchange of threats.
US President Donald Trump has threatened the isolated regime with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”, leading North Korea to respond with threats to launch missiles near the US island of Guam in the south Pacific Ocean.
In North Korea’s latest propaganda video released on Tuesday, an image of Mr Trump is shown at a cemetery which is apparently meant to be in Guam.
Vice-president Mike Pence is also pictured engulfed in flames.
Envoys for the US and North Korea, which are technically both still in a state of war since the 1950s, clashed at the United Nations in Geneva on Tuesday.
“The path to dialogue still remained an option,” US Disarmament Ambassador Robert Wood told a the conference.
Diplomat Ju Yong Chol denounced “constant nuclear threats” from the US.
He added that “the measures taken by [North Korea] to strengthen its nuclear deterrence and develop inter-continental rockets is justifiable and a legitimate option for self-defence in the face of such apparent and real threats.”