The Treasury Department "is targeting leaders of North Korea's ballistic missile programmes, as part of our maximum pressure campaign to isolate [North Korea] and achieve a fully denuclearised Korean Peninsula", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Kim Jong Sik, a veteran rocket scientist, and Ri Pyong Chol, a former senior air force commander, are often seen on television and in photographs with leader Kim Jong Un, walking down the red carpet or sharing a smoke with him to celebrate a successful missile launch. North Korea claimed the intercontinental ballistic missile it that test can reach any target in the continental United States.
The Treasury Department said in a press release it has designated Kim Jong-sik and Ri Pyong-chol, both belonging to the Munitions Industry Department of the North's Workers' Party of Korea.
Kim played a crucial role in switching North Korea's programs from liquid to solid fuel, a move that could enable the regime to launch missiles with less warning, according to CNBC.
The US has placed sanctions on two North Korean officials it says have led the development of nuclear missiles. North Korea called the move "an act of war" and threatened to "make sure" that all those, who supported the resolution, would "pay [a] heavy price for what they have done".
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Under the new sanctions, any property or interests in property of the two men within US jurisdiction are blocked, and transactions by USA persons involving the designated persons are generally prohibited, the statement said.
Deliveries of petrol products capped at 500,000 barrels a year, and crude oil at four million barrels a year.
They were both among 16 North Koreans placed under United Nations sanctions on Friday. North Korean citizens working in other countries will also have to return in the next 24 months, preventing the country from obtaining foreign currency.
A ban on exports of North Korean goods, such as machinery and electrical equipment.
The sanctions follow a number of ballistic missile tests this year, including one in late November.