UN imposes sanctions on 3 North Korean companies

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The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions Wednesday against three North Korean state-owned companies to punish Pyongyang for last month's failed rocket launch, which violated existing U.N. sanctions.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice announced that the council's committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea approved the new sanctions and ordered all countries to freeze the assets of the three companies which are "very much involved in ... illicit missile and nuclear programs."

She identified one of them as the Green Pine Associated Corporation. Council diplomats identified the other two as the Amroggang Development Banking Corporation and The Korea Heungjin Trading Company.

Rice said the sanctions committee also approved updates of items and technology to the Missile Technology Control Regime list and the Nuclear Suppliers Group list, and approved a new work plan for the committee's panel of experts. The lists were last updated in 2009.

The Missile Technology Control Regime, a group of 34 countries, monitors the transfer of missile equipment, material and related technologies that can be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction. The Nuclear Suppliers Group comprises countries which have established export rules to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"Taken together, we view this as a strong and credible set of new sanctions," Rice said.

The Security Council unanimously approved a presidential statement on April 16 strongly condemning North Korea's failed rocket launch on April 13. The council gave the sanctions committee -- which includes all 15 council members -- 15 days to prepare new additions for the sanctions list.

The European Union proposed about 40 additions and the United States, Japan and South Korea also submitted lists -- but China, North Korea's closest ally, did not respond until just before the deadline Tuesday night, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks have been private.

China approved the three additions, and the sanctions committee agreed to the additions Wednesday, the diplomats said.

The Security Council has imposed two rounds of sanctions against North Korea, after its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

Before Wednesday's additions, the sanctions blacklist included eight entities -- six trading companies, a bank and the General Bureau of Atomic Energy -- and five individuals.