SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea hit back at the United States on Sunday (June 5) for labelling it a money-laundering state, describing it as a "nonsensical" effort that only revealed the flaws of existing sanctions pushed by Washington.
The US on Wednesday branded Pyongyang a "global money laundering concern", aiming to lock the impoverished by nuclear-armed country out of the world financial system. The move would prevent both direct and indirect North Korean financial activities within the US banking network, ensuring that any third-party deals involving significant sums of US dollar or other currencies cannot transit the US.
But the North's National Coordination Committee for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism slammed the US action as "another illegal act of infringing upon the sovereignty and vital rights" of the country.
"The US is loudly calling on the neighbouring countries to increase pressure upon the DPRK... but the DPRK dismisses this as a nonsensical talk," it said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), using the country's official name of Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
It claimed Pyongyang had a "well-regulated" system to combat money laundering and was "not frightened in the least" by the latest label.
Washington's move comes after the UN Security Council slapped the harshest-ever sanctions on the North in March for its widely-condemned nuclear test and a long-range missile launch.
The North staged its fourth atomic test in January and a long-range rocket test a month later - widely seen as a ballistic missile test, banned under existing UN resolutions.
Washington led the drive for new sanctions applied in March, which urged unprecedented inspections of all cargo to and from the North, and called for UN members to sever banking ties with Pyongyang.
The money laundering designation however was proof that the US found it "hard to achieve its objective (to punish the North) through the unreasonable UN... sanctions", said KCNA statement.
"The US is sadly mistaken if it calculates it can attain its sinister political goal through the action," it added.
The North has recently faced growing pressure from the international community, although questions remain on whether China - its economic lifeline - would join the push.
US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is set to urge China to crack down harder on the North during a planned visit to Beijing from Monday to Tuesday, according to senior US officials.