The United States issued a new series of sanctions aiming to hinder North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and the ballistic missile platforms needed to carry them, this time, targeting a number of Chinese and Russian entities and individuals accused of skirting U.N. and U.S. sanctions.

Kim Jong-un’s North Korean regime’s ballistic missile program has made fast progress in recent months, and recently successfully fielded a truly intercontinental ballistic missile that experts believe can reach targets as far away as the East Coast of the continental United States.  Although the second test appeared to show the North Korean re-entry vehicle failing to survive the trip back through the atmosphere, these tests coupled with the revelation that Kim now possesses small enough nuclear warheads to mount on such a missile, have dramatically increased tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

Last week, Kim Jong-un announced that he would pause his military plan to launch four ballistic missiles toward Guam, a U.S. territory that houses thousands of American troops, as well as a sizeable civilian population.  The U.S. is currently participating in a series of military exercises along the North Korean border with ally South Korea however, which has once again brought tensions between American and Kim’s regime to the forefront of concern for many in the region.

Throughout the rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, China has repeated claimed to seek a denuclearized North Korea, while simultaneously being an outspoken critic of the U.S. led international effort to secure such a nuclear-free outcome.  Many, including President Trump, have accused China of not exercising its massive financial leverage over Kim’s regime to bring the standoff to a halt.  China also provided North Korea with six large timber trucks, which North Korea converted into ICBM transportation and launch vehicles, despite China claiming they were not sold with that intent.