PARIS — The United Nations Security Council agreed Jan. 22 to tighten sanctions against North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s Dec. 12 satellite launch by issuing travel bans and asset freezes on Korean individuals and companies involved in the space launch work.

The unanimous decision by the Security Council will make it difficult for North Korea’s senior aerospace officials to leave the country, and specifically to attend professional conferences such as the annual International Astronautical Congress, which is scheduled to occur in September in Beijing.

The council’s resolution 2087 said the United Nations recognizes “the freedom of all states to explore and use outer space in accordance with international law, including restrictions imposed by relevant Security Council |resolutions.”

The Security Council has voted numerous resolutions seeking to halt North Korea’s work on nuclear technology, and on its space launch program, which the council views as North Korea’s pursuit of missile development by another name. North Korean officials have said their space program’s goal is to place satellites in orbit.

The Security Council said North Korea has evaded previous sanctions in part by “the use of bulk cash,” and noted that individual states may seize, store, destroy or divert goods traded as part of international weapon deals with North Korea.

The council issued a ban on travel for four individuals said to be key to North Korea’s rocket launch program, and froze their assets. The individuals are the director of the satellite control center of the Korean Committee for Space Technology; the general manager of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station; and two managers of Tanchon Commercial Bank, which is alleged to have facilitated the program’s |financing.

The six organizations whose assets have been frozen are:

  • The Korean Committee for Space Technology, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Committee for Space Technology, which the Security Council said “orchestrated” the December 2012 launch as well as a failed attempt the previous April.
  • The Bank of East Land, also known as Dongbang Bank or Tongbang Bank, alleged to have facilitated weapon-related transactions for Green Pine Associated Corp., an entity previously cited by the United Nations for transactions with Iranian financial |institutions.
  • Korea Kumryong Trading Corp., said to be an alias used by Korea Mining Development Trading Corp., which the U.N. says is North Korea’s primary arms dealer and missile technology exporter.
  • Tosong Technology Trading Corp., a subsidiary of Korea Mining Development Trading Corp., an alleged weapon technology exporter.
  • Korea Ryonha Machinery Joint Venture Corp., whose parent company, Korea Ryonbong General Corp., is alleged to trade in weapons on behalf of North Korean interests.
  • Leader (Hong Kong) International, also known as Leader International Trading Ltd., an alleged exporter of missile technology.

North Korea’s December launch succeeded in placing what the state-run news service characterized as an Earth observing satellite into an orbit with an apogee of 581 kilometers, a perigee of 498 kilometers and an inclination of 97 degrees.

According to T.S. Kelso, who manages the Celestrak orbit tracking website, the satellite’s orbit is consistent with an Earth observation or surveillance satellite. He said a satellite placed in that position could be expected to remain on orbit for just fewer than 15 years.

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews.