The US has expanded sanctions against North Korea targeting two senior military officials, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the Department of the Treasury announced on Tuesday.
According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Deputy Director of the Workers' Party of Korea Military Industry Department Kim Jong Sik and First Vice Department Director of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Committee Ri Pyong Chol, were targeted due to their alleged involvement in the country's ballistic missile programs.
"Treasury is targeting leaders of North Korea's ballistic missile programs, as part of our maximum pressure campaign to isolate [North Korea] and achieve a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula," the Department's statement reads.
While tensions on the Korean Peninsula have further escalated due to Pyongyang's repeated ballistic missile launches, with the latest taking place on November 29, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on tightening sanctions against North Korea. Pyongyang has responded, slamming the new sanctions as an "act of war."
Since the extreme escalation of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, the US administration has been sending mixed signals concerning its view of the way to resolve the issue. While Trump's national security adviser McMaster stated that "all options are on the table" with regard to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that Washington was "ready to talk anytime" with Pyongyang "without precondition," but emphasized that "the diplomatic effort has to be backed up by a very credible military alternative."