US reserves right to punish China firms working with NKorea

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FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2016 file photo, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel meets with reporters after the meeting with South Korean senior officials at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea. Russel ... said that Washington reserves the right to punish Chinese companies that violate U.N. sanctions on North Korea if Chinese authorities don’t take action. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File) (The Associated Press)

A senior U.S. official says that Washington reserves the right to punish Chinese companies that violate U.N. sanctions on North Korea if Chinese authorities don't take action.

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Top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Russel, said that since most of North Korea's illegal activities are conducted through neighboring China, such companies are "going to have to tighten up and shut down operations." The U.S. is looking to cooperate with international partners in cutting revenue sources for the North's nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea has conducted two nuclear test explosions and more than 20 missile launches this year, intensifying concern that it is closer to having a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach America.

The Justice Department recently unsealed criminal charges against a China-based company for conspiring to evade sanctions.