White House slaps fresh sanctions on North Korea

A Chinese vendor hands change to a North Korean customer who gave him a US $100 bill at an international trade fair in the North Korean capital Pyongyang Sept. 25 2017
US readies 'largest' sanctions
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24 February, 2018

The pronouncement came just hours after Ivanka Trump, on a visit to South Korea timed with the end of the 2018 Winter Olympics, dined with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The designations target 27 shipping and trade companies, 28 vessels, and one person that the Treasury Department said have enabled North Korea to skirt sanctions and finance its weapons programs.

President Donald Trump announced Friday that the US Treasury Department is imposing new sanctions against North Korea specifically targeting the country's shipping and trading companies and vessels in an effort to further isolate the rogue regime. Most of the named ships and companies were based in North Korea but some are based in China, Singapore, Taiwan, Panama, Tanzania, the Marshall Islands and Comoros. "These images from December 2017 reveal ship-to-ship transfers of fuel and other products destined for North Korea in an attempt to evade sanctions", he said.

"We are aggressively targeting [North Korea's] ability to evade sanctions, while also significantly hindering [.] the regime's ability to continue to conduct these illicit maritime activities that facilitate coal and fuel transport among others, in worldwide waters", a senior administration official said during a briefing Friday.

The US mission said it had submitted a list to the council's sanctions committee "aimed at shutting down North Korea's illicit maritime smuggling activities to obtain oil and sell coal". And frankly, hopefully something positive can happen.

"Those who trade with North Korea", Mnuchin said, "do so at their own peril".

In October the U.S. proposed eight ships for United Nations designation for smuggling banned cargo from North Korea.

But were the Treasury Department designations of more than 50 companies and ships accused of illicit trading with the pariah nation really the toughest action yet by the US and the wider world?

More news: Takeaways from the Brandon Drury trade

The new package of sanctions is the latest measure to try to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear arms programs.

Assets held by the firms within the U.S. will also be blocked.

But in purely economic terms, both Mnuchin and Trump are well wide of the mark.

The agencies also alerted those industries of North Korea's deceptive shipping practices.

"Through today's actions, we are putting companies and countries across the world on notice", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

- Ivanka Trump will get a taste of Olympic action on the final full day of events at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

During a pre-dinner briefing with Moon, Ivanka said her visit was to "reaffirm our commitment to our maximum pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized".

Trump and aides have not ruled out a military response to North Korea's nuclear threats.


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