North Korean flag
North Korean flagReuters

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on eight North Korean banks and 26 executives, AFP reports.

"This further advances our strategy to fully isolate North Korea in order to achieve our broader objectives of a peaceful and denuclearized Korean peninsula," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement quoted by the news agency.

Tuesday's announcement compounded economic sanctions which the United Nations unanimously imposed on North Korea after it carried out its latest nuclear weapons test early this month.

The new sanctions target North Koreans working as representatives of North Korean banks in China, Russia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.

All property and interest of the designated companies and individuals in the US are blocked by the sanctions, effectively freezing them out of much of the global financial system.

The U.S. targeted North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank and the Central Bank of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as North Korean government agencies.

The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which overseas U.S. sanctions programs, said the Foreign Trade Bank had carried out transactions on behalf of North Korea's weapons development program.

The sanctions come amid continued tensions between the United States and North Korea, which increased after Pyongyang’s latest tests of a ballistic missile and what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb.

Last week, in his speech before the UN General Assembly, Trump nicknamed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "Rocket Man", and said he "is on suicide mission for himself and for his regime."

"No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arming itself with nuclear weapons and missiles," Trump said. "It is time for North Korea to realize that de-nuclearization is its only acceptable future."

In response, North Korean's foreign minister said Trump had made an "irreversible mistake" and threatened the "entire U.S. mainland" with missiles.

On Tuesday, Trump warned North Korea that a military option would be "devastating" for Pyongyang, but said the use of force was not Washington's first option to deal with the country's ballistic and nuclear weapons program.