The U.S. State Department is offering up to $5 million in rewards, seeking information to disrupt financial tools of persons engaged in illegal activities that support North Korea's weapons proliferation programs, money laundering, and specific cyber operations.
Later this week, the State Department also plans to call out a specific individual who evades U.S. and United Nations sanctions by covertly transporting fuel to North Korea.
The U.S. efforts to curb North Korea's illicit activities come amid Pyongyang's unprecedented missile firings and escalating nuclear threats.
Earlier Wednesday, South Korea's military said North Korea fired three missiles in the direction of South Korean territory.
U.S. officials also voiced concerns about North Korea's weapon proliferation. White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby said Wednesday the U.S. has information that indicates North Korea is covertly supplying Russia with a "significant" number of artillery shells for its war in Ukraine.
In Pyongyang, North Korea's foreign ministry demanded Monday the U.S. and South Korea to stop large-scale military exercises, calling them a provocation that may draw "more powerful follow-up measures" from Pyongyang.
"The DPRK knows full well that the military exercises that we conduct are purely, purely defensive in nature," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during Tuesday's briefing. He was referring to Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.
The spokesperson warned of "profound costs and profound consequences" if the DPRK went ahead with its seventh nuclear test.
A diplomatic source who wishes not to be named told VOA that South Korea, together with the U.S., have "full capability" to "wipe out" North Korea from the map should Pyongyang launch an attack against Seoul. He said South Korea currently has no plan to request that the United States redeploy the tactical nuclear weapons that Washington withdrew from Seoul in the early 1990s.
The Rewards for Justice Program is administered by the State Department's diplomatic security service. The program has paid more than $250 million to more than 125 people who provided information that have helped to resolve threats to U.S. national security since 1984.