North Korea

Trump Expands U.S. Sanctions on Dealings With North Korea

from The Wall Street Journal,

Executive order gives Treasury more power to target Pyongyang’s trading partners.

President Donald Trump launched a new phase of a crackdown on North Korea on Thursday, expanding sanctions to hit any individuals, companies and financial institutions doing business with Pyongyang, not only those involved in aiding its weapons program or laundering funds. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un later in the day let loose at Mr. Trump’s Tuesday speech at the United Nations, calling it “unprecedented rude nonsense” that showed the president to be “mentally deranged” and “playing with fire.” Mr. Trump had threatened to destroy North Korea if forced to defend the U.S. or its allies against it. “We will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history,” Mr. Kim said in a rare statement attributed directly to him by Pyongyang’s state mouthpiece, the Korean Central News Agency. President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order giving the U.S. Treasury Department the power to sanction any entity involved with North Korean trade or finance, freeze the U.S. assets of foreign banks working with the country and ban those institutions from accessing U.S. financial markets.

The action steps ups Washington’s effort to strangle financing to the nuclear-armed state in the face of repeated missile tests by the Kim regime. “Foreign banks will face a clear choice: doing business with the United States or facilitate trade with the lawless regime in North Korea,” Mr. Trump said in remarks at a lunch with leaders of South Korea and Japan in New York, alongside U.N. meetings. The presidential order authorizes Treasury to target a broad swath of North Korean trade, including textile and seafood exports, technology, and shipping networks. North Korean defectors, U.S. officials and analysts all have said those trade and finance networks are funneling cash into the country’s nuclear-weapon and intercontinental-ballistic-missile programs.

“For far too long, North Korea has evaded sanctions and used the international financial system to facilitate funding for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on the sidelines of U.N. meetings “No bank—in any country—should be used to facilitate Kim Jong Un’s destructive behavior.” U.S. officials cast their moves as part of a growing international effort. Mr. Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for a recent move by Beijing’s central bank to bar transactions with North Korea. China accounts for more than 90% of Pyongyang’s trade, and much of those transactions are conducted through the Chinese banking system.

“China, their central bank has told their other banks…to immediately stop doing business with North Korea,” Mr. Trump said.

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