5 North Koreans, With Ties to Russia or China, Hit With U.S. Sanctions After Missile Test

The U.S. government hit five North Korean officials with sanctions on Wednesday in connection with the country's increased testing of hypersonic missiles.

The Treasury Department said the five officials allegedly provided North Korea's Second Academy of Natural Sciences, which is deeply involved in the North's military programs, with money, goods or services.

The officials are accused of obtaining equipment and technology for missile launches. One of the five officials is based in Russia, with the other four based in China.

The sanctions will freeze any U.S. assets the officials have and stop Americans from doing business with them. Foreign companies and individuals doing business with them could also face penalties.

In addition to the five officials sanctioned by the Treasury Department, the State Department said it will sanction another North Korean man, a Russian man and a Russian company for supporting North Korea's activities involving weapons of mass destruction.

The sanctions were implemented shortly after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a successful hypersonic missile test on Tuesday. Forces in South Korea and Japan confirmed the launch, the North's second in less than a week.

Newsweek previously reported that an article published in the Korean Workers' Party Central Committee newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said Tuesday's launch was "carried out with the purpose of finally confirming the overall technical characteristics of the developed hypersonic weapon system."

North Korea, missile, launch
The U.S. has imposed sanctions on several North Korean officials following a reported hypersonic missile launch in the country. Above, a photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says was a test launch of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

"The DPRK's latest missile launches are further evidence that it continues to advance prohibited programs despite the international community's calls for diplomacy and denuclearization," said Treasury's chief of terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson. He referred to the North by the acronym of its official name: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Shortly before the announcement, North Korea's state news agency reported that the latest missile launch involved a hypersonic glide vehicle, which after its release from the rocket booster demonstrated "glide jump flight" and "corkscrew maneuvering" before hitting a sea target 621 miles away.

Photos released by the agency showed a missile mounted with a pointed cone-shaped payload soaring into the sky while leaving a trail of orange flames, with Kim watching from a small cabin with top officials, including his sister Kim Yo Jong.

The launch was North Korea's second test of its purported hypersonic missile in a week, a type of weaponry it first tested in September, as Kim Jong Un continues a defiant push to expand his nuclear weapons capabilities in the face of international sanctions, pandemic-related difficulties and deadlocked diplomacy with the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.