The US Treasury has imposed sanctions on a North Korean bank and its China-based representative in the latest step to disrupt Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes and pressure the government.
The action against Daedong Credit Bank on Thursday showed that the Obama administration is keeping up pressure on North Korea despite a pause in the threatening rhetoric that followed an atomic test explosion in February and Pyongyang's offer this month to negotiate directly with Washington.
The new sanctions also underscored continuing US concern about North Korean financial institutions and companies operating in China, despite restrictions recently imposed by Beijing on the country's main foreign exchange bank.
"That North Korea's recent bellicose statements and actions seem to have ebbed does not alter the basic facts. North Korea continues to pursue an illicit nuclear and ballistic missile program that threatens the US" and other countries, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence David Cohen said.
The US Treasury Department said that since at least 2007, Daedong Credit Bank has facilitated hundreds of financial transactions worth millions of dollars on behalf of the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, Pyongyang's premier arms dealer, and its main financial arm, the Tanchon Commercial Bank.