United States announces sanctions on two officials over North Korea's missile program

In July, North Korea successfully launched the country's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which had the capability of reaching the U.S territory. The department says Kim Jong-sik, a veteran rocket scientist, is a key figure responsible for advancing the program to a point where the regime is successfully testing ICBMs capable of reaching the US mainland.

North Korea launched a new ICBM on November 29, claiming it can carry a nuclear warhead to anywhere on the US mainland.

The US treasury named the two men as Kim Jong-sik and Ri Pyong-chol, and said both were "key leaders" of North Korea's ballistic missile programme.

"If the USA wishes to live safely, it must abandon its hostile policy towards the DPRK and learn to co-exist with the country that has nuclear weapons and should wake up from its pipe dream of our country giving up nuclear weapons which we have developed and completed through all kinds of hardships", a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency said Sunday. Using solid fuel makes missiles easier to hide before launch.

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The new measures order North Koreans working overseas to return home within two years, and ban almost 90 per cent of refined petroleum exports to the country.

Their behaviour around him, Reuters said, "is sharply at variance with the obsequiousness of other senior aides, most of whom bow and hold their hands over their mouths when speaking to the young leader".

The phone call follows Lavrov's previous offer to step in and mediate the conflict between the United States and North Korea. The resolution put a cap on the country's crude oil imports and limits imports of refined oil products. The resolution adopted by the council also demands the repatriation of all North Koreans working overseas within 24 months. Their income is believed to be extorted by Pyongyang to fund the nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The OFAC measures come just over a month since the last Treasury Department designations, when Washington targeted companies trading with North Korea, in addition to the country's shipping companies and a DPRK entity involved in exporting laborers.

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