The Obama administration on Monday expanded sanctions against North Korea by freezing the assets of individuals, companies and organizations allegedly linked to support for Pyongyang's nuclear program.
Targeted entities included one variously known as Office 39 or Bureau 39, believed to manage a range of illicit activities in support of the North Korean nuclear program.
In a report earlier this year, the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute said Office 39 is involved in the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs, the counterfeiting of U.S. currency, and the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit cigarettes.
In announcing the new sanctions, the Treasury Department said President Barack Obama had issued an executive order authorizing action again four North Korean individuals, three North Korean companies and five North Korean government agencies. The order took effect Monday.
Two of the targeted individuals are associated with the North Korean government's General Bureau of Atomic Energy.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had announced the administration's intention to expand sanctions against North Korea when she was in Seoul in July.
North Korea, which tested a nuclear bomb in 2006, is believed to have enough weaponized plutonium for at least half a dozen atomic bombs and last year revealed it has a uranium enrichment program that would give the regime a second way to make nuclear weapons.
Five nations - China, Russia, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan - have been trying for years to negotiate with North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for aid and other concessions.
Pyongyang abandoned those talks last year after the U.N. Security Council condemned the regime for carrying out a long-range missile test. Weeks later, North Korea carried out a second nuclear test.
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