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(CNN) — The US on Wednesday announced sanctions on eight North Korean and Russian individuals and entities for supporting North Korea’s ballistic missile programs, imposing the punishments after a pair of new missile tests by North Korea in the last week.

“Today’s actions, part of the United States’ ongoing efforts to counter (North Korea’s) weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, target its continued use of overseas representatives to illegally procure goods for weapons,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E.

Nelson said in a statement.

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North Korea’s “latest missile launches are further evidence that it continues to advance prohibited programs despite the international community’s calls for diplomacy and denuclearization,” he added.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement later Wednesday that in addition to the individuals and entities that the Treasury Department had imposed sanctions on, his department was placing sanctions on “one (North Korean) individual, one Russian individual, and one Russian entity that have engaged in activities or transactions that have materially contributed to the proliferation of (weapons of mass destruction) or their means of delivery by (North Korea).”

A full assessment of the missile test by North Korea on Tuesday local time continues to be made. Three US officials told CNN that it demonstrated some surprising capabilities, although two other US officials said they were not surprised by the development. Those two officials cited North Korea’s statement that it was working on new advanced weapons for war fighting earlier this month and launched its first hypersonic missile test last year.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday’s test was more advanced than the missile Pyongyang tested last week, reaching a velocity of more than 10 times the speed of sound.

One US administration official said the current assessment is the missile most likely released a glide vehicle, but it’s not clear how successful it was. A maneuverable glide vehicle is when the front end of the missile detaches and can maneuver and change course.

Multiple officials also cautioned that analysis remains ongoing, with one adding that it is not clear if the capabilities demonstrated in the test are immediately relevant to North Korea’s operational military capacity.

Tuesday’s projectile was launched from Jangang province, near the border with China, and landed in the ocean between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, its flight covering a distance of more than 700 kilometers (435 miles) and reaching a height of 60 kilometers (37 miles), according to South Korea.

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North Korea said Wednesday that it had successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile, according to its state media, making it the third alleged test of such a weapon by the Kim Jong Un regime. Kim attended the launch, state media reported.

Despite the advanced launch, the Biden administration does not plan to reach out to North Korea in a substantive way before South Korean elections in March, administration officials said.

The weapons test this week comes as diplomacy between the US and North Korea has been halted for more than a year. Though the Biden administration has tried to reach out to North Korea a handful of times, there has been no real response.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday that the Biden administration’s policy toward North Korea remains “unchanged” in the face of the recent missile launches. The administration still believes that the “only effective” way to bring about peace on the Korean Peninsula is through dialogue, he said.

US officials have watched, and quietly supported, as South Korea has tried to engage North Korea in many ways over the last year. But South Koreans do not think there is a high chance of diplomacy before the elections, and Biden administration officials agree.

Administration officials believe that North Korea is now solely focused on two things: the coronavirus pandemic and advancing its weapons systems, the officials said.

This story has been updated with additional details from the State Department.

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Biden admin to send Russia written responses as soon as Wednesday

(CNN)The Biden administration is set to send Russia a written response to concerns Moscow has publicly released and US proposals on a path forward as soon as Wednesday, according to administration officials, but the response is unlikely to characterize the likelihood of Ukraine joining NATO in the short term or show any room for negotiation on NATO's open door policy -- which is Russian President Vladimir Putin's central grievance.

"I think for a couple reasons that is not the kind of thing I would expect to see in any written response from the United States," State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday when asked if the US would be including a characterization of the likelihood or not of Ukraine joining NATO, which US President Joe Biden did during public remarks last week. The proposal will lay out the general areas where the US is willing to work with Russia, which US officials have already clearly identified: arms control, greater transparency, risk reduction and the placement of missile systems. The details will go "slightly deeper" than what the US has said publicly, explained senior administration officials.
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier Wednesday that depending on the content of this response, which he said is "expected this week," Russian officials will prepare "proposals for the president [Putin] regarding our next steps."
      US officials believe that the ideas they formalize in written form could prompt negotiations with Russia, but said that would only happen if Putin decides he wants to engage. The Biden administration has said the response will be shared with Russia at some time this week, coming as Russia continues to build up its military presence along Ukraine's borders. Read MoreThe purpose of providing the response in written form -- a demand Russia has made since they put written ideas forward in December -- is to fuel the diplomacy that the US hopes will deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine, State Department officials said."When the Russians came back and said you need to put this in writing, the understanding on our side as we thought about was OK, if this allows the ultimate decision-maker in Russia to look at the ideas and decide whether to move forward, it's in our interest, our shared interest among the US, its European allies and partners, to proceed and really test if they're moving forward on the diplomatic track," a senior State Department official told reporters after Secretary of State Antony Blinken's meeting with Lavrov in Geneva. "We're taking this step by step, but we don't want to be the ones to foreclose the possible diplomatic solution."The US does not plan to make the proposal public, but US officials acknowledge that there is a high possibility that Russia publishes the full document after receiving it. The US has been consulting with allies, including Ukraine, over the last few weeks as they have been developing their proposal. That is one reason the US is not providing the written response until now, administration officials said. "We have been consulting extensively with our allies and our partners, and of course when it comes to the latter category, that includes Ukraine," Price said on Tuesday. "We have not only informed them and given them a preview of what will be in this report, but we have actually explicitly solicited their feedback and incorporated that feedback into our report. So there will be no surprises. There will be no surprises for NATO. There will be no surprises for our European allies. There will be no surprises for our Ukrainian partners."But some allies and experts are skeptical of how much emphasis should be put on this document from the US, given it is not expected to give room for negotiation on Russia's key demands, and there is concern that Moscow will use the US response as a pretext to say diplomacy has failed.
        The senior State Department official acknowledged that such "pessimism may be right, but it's do you see the glass as half full or half empty, and if you think there's any opportunity to have this end through some sort of diplomatic negation, we're going to try that and see if there's space for that."Blinken said in Geneva that US and Russian officials would meet again after the written proposal was transmitted to Russia.

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