UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Wednesday ordered sanctions against three "very significant" North Korean state firms over the country's failed rocket launch, US ambassador Susan Rice said.
But the assets freeze imposed against three enterprises said to have financed and organized the North's missile and nuclear programs could soon be followed by a new UN sanctions battle if the North carries out a feared nuclear bomb test.
The United States, European Union, South Korea and Japan had proposed adding 40 companies, organizations and individuals to the UN sanctions list. But China, the North's closest ally, rejected the bulk of the names, diplomats said.
The three sanctioned firms were identified as Amroggang Development Banking Corporation, which already faces US and European Union sanctions, Green Pine Associated Corporation, and Korea Heungjin Trading Company.
Amroggang was related to another bank, Tanchon, which plays a "key role" in North Korea's sales of ballistic missiles, including to Iran, said a sanctions committee statement.
Green Pine was said to be North Korea's "prime" arms dealer, responsible for about half of the country's arms exports. The statement added that Korea Heungjin was also suspected of trading in weapons with Iran and importing goods for missile designs.
"We view this as a strong and credible set of sanctions," US envoy Rice told reporters.
China's UN ambassador Li Baodong also said he was "happy" that an agreement had been reached on the sanctions list.
"These new sanctions include the designation of, and the freezing of assets of three very significant North Korean entities, very much involved in their illicit missile and nuclear programs," Rice told reporters.
North Korea fired the rocket on April 13, but it disintegrated soon after launch and fell into the Yellow Sea.
Global condemnation followed, however, and the Security Council ordered the expansion of sanctions imposed after the isolated state's nuclear bomb tests in 2006 and 2009.
The Security Council is now braced for more difficult talks if North Korea stages a third bomb test. China would again be expected to protect its neighbor against international pressure for major sanctions, diplomats said. (AFP)