- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States on Wednesday sanctioned a dozen individuals and five organizations tied to North Korea’s nuclear and weapons proliferation efforts.

The announcement by the Treasury and State departments complement actions taken by the United Nations and are aimed at holding Pyongyang responsible for its illicit pursuit of nuclear and missile programs.

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the toughest sanctions on North Korea in two decades, reflecting growing anger at North Korea’s Jan. 6 nuclear test and Feb. 7 rocket launch in defiance of a ban on all nuclear-related activity.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said North Korea fired short-range projectiles into the sea off its east coast just hours after the sanctions were approved.

The State Department said Wednesday evening that it was aware of the South Korean report and was monitoring the situation closely.

The Treasury sanctions target 10 individuals and the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Military Commission. U.S. officials say the commission is responsible for the party’s military policies, commands the North Korean military and directs the country’s military defense industries in coordination with the National Defense Commission.

The commission, which was also sanctioned, is North Korea’s highest branch of government and the country’s supreme policymaking organization. It directs all military, defense and security-related affairs. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in his role as first chairman of the commission, ordered the January nuclear test.

The State Department action targeted two individuals and North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration, the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry and the Academy of National Defense Science.

The U.S. action freezes all assets that those targeted have within U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits Americans from engaging in transactions with them.

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