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US North Korea Financial Noose Tightens

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-+ WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Thursday imposed financial sanctions on a North Korean firm accused of involvement in the country's missile programs.

The Treasury Department's action covers Korea Hyoksin Trading Corp. It means any bank accounts or other financial assets found in the United States that belong to the company must be frozen. Americans also are prohibited from doing business with the firm.

It is the latest move by the United States to keep pressure on Pyongyang, whose nuclear ambitions have ratcheted up global tensions.

The department alleges that Korea Hyoksin Trading is owned or controlled by another North Korean firm, Korea Ryonbong General Corp., which the United States says is involved in the development of weapons of mass destruction. Korea Ryonbong supports Pyongyang's sales of military-related items, the department said.

"The world community is taking forceful action against the arms and agencies of North Korea's WMD and missile programs, prohibiting dealings with them and banning them from participation in the global financial system," said Adam Szubin, director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers and enforces sanctions programs.

North Korea in recent months has made some bold moves with respect to its nuclear ambitions that have touched an international nerve. It conducted a long-range rocket launch in April, quit the six-nation nuclear talks, restarted its nuclear facilities, conducted its second-ever nuclear test, and test-launched a barrage of banned ballistic missiles.

The U.N. Security Council has adopted tough sanctions to punish Pyongyang.

Earlier this week, North Korea expressed a willingness to engage in one-on-one talks with the United States to resolve the dispute over eliminating its nuclear weapons program.

The United States has said it is willing to hold direct talks with Pyongyang – but only on the sidelines of six-party nuclear disarmament talks that include the U.S., North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. North Korea has said it won't return to the stalled six-nation talks and suggested a new dialogue with President Barack Obama's administration.