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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the exhibition of utensils and tools, finishing building materials and sci-tech achievements organised by the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), May 13, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS


By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury is considering all of its available tools to deny North Korea access to the international financial system to rein in its nuclear weapons and missile development programs, a senior Treasury official said on Saturday.

"We are entertaining all of the tools in our arsenal, including programs that come from TFI and OFAC offices and similar ones to try to stop them," the official told reporters before news broke that North Korea had fired another ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.

The official was referring to sanctions and other programs administered by the Treasury's Terrorism and Financial Intelligence division and the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

"We don’t comment on future sanctions, but we’re obviously going to consider every tool in our arsenal to combat any illicit activity and terror financing," the official said.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile from a region near its west coast that flew 700 km (430 miles), South Korea's military said, days after a new leader took office in the South pledging to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang.

Earlier on Saturday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he made efforts to combat terrorism and illicit finance, which includes sanctions on North Korea, a key focus of his discussions with his counterparts from the Group of Seven industrial economies.

Mnuchin told reporters on his plane back to Washington that for him, terrorism and illicit finance issues outweighed his discussions of the Trump administration's trade policies at the G7 meeting in Bari, Italy.

"I would say trade was important, but the biggest focus was working with our partners to combat terrorist financing," Mnuchin said.

The G7 finance ministers and central bank governors pledged to strengthen tools to effectively counter terrorist financing, including sharing information and working more effectively to freeze assets that fall under sanctions.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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