The Bush administration has quietly imposed sanctions on a North Korean company for selling Scud missile parts to Yemen. It plans no penalties against Yemen, an ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

The administration decided on the penalties Aug. 16, a State Department official said Thursday night. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the company as Changgwang Sinyong Corp.

This official said the U.S. government imposed the sanctions because of the company's sale of missile components, but would not say which country bought them.

A second official named Yemen as the purchasing country.

U.S. authorities asked Yemen why it bought the parts, and officials in that country apologized, promised not to do so again and pledged to help in other areas, this official said. The United States decided against any penalties.

When the sanctions against North Korea are announced in the Federal Register in coming days, Yemen will not be identified as the purchasing country.

Yemen committed itself to joining the war on terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks and has allowed American forces to enter the country to train its military to combat terrorists.

The October 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors took place in Yemen. The blast was blamed on the al-Qaida network and Osama bin Laden, who has ancestral roots to Yemenn.

By contrast, the Bush administration has no such delicate relations with North Korea.

President Bush labeled the communist nation part of an "axis of evil," along with Iraq and Iran, in his State of the Union speech Jan. 29. The country has long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States, and has sold some missiles to Iran and Syria.

The United States and other countries interested in preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction have banded together under the Missile Technology Control Regime to try to discourage exports of such technology.

According to the State Department official, North Korea incurred the sanctions for selling Category II items. These are the second-most serious breaches under the MTCR rules, and include missile components and materials. None of the officials knew which parts the North Korean company sold.

Under the sanctions, Changgwang Sinyong Corp. will be barred for two years from obtaining new individual export licenses through the Commerce or State departments for any controlled MTCR items.

The sanctions will have little practical effect, one official said, because there is so little commerce between the United States and North Korea. But, this official said, they will reinforce Bush's message that North Korea spreads dangerous technology.

It was at least the third time the United States has imposed sanctions on Changgwang Sinyong. The New York Times, which first reported the new sanctions on its Web site Thursday night, said the company is the marketing arm for Pyongyang's missile-export program.

In April 2000, the United States slapped sanctions on Iran and North Korea for "knowingly engaging in the export of military technology." In that case, the breaches involved Category I offenses, which include complete missile systems, major subsystems, rocket stages or guidance systems, production facilities for MTCR-class missiles or technology associated with such missiles.

In June 2001, the State Department penalized the company for transferring sensitive technology to Iran.