The US has announced new sanctions against North Korea in an effort to prevent weapons proliferation and control illicit activities that fund Pyongyang’s weapons programmes.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the new measures were not directed at the people of North Korea but at the destabilising, illicit and provocative policies pursued by that government.

The new sanctions follow Pyongyang’s alleged attack on a South Korean warship, Cheonan, in March this year.

New measures will target Pyongyang’s sale and purchase of arms and import of luxury goods, and help prevent nuclear proliferation.

The announcement came after Secretary of State and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates visited the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea to discuss a broad range of issues with South Korea.