Washington: US President Donald Trump announced sanctions on Thursday that open the door wider to blacklisting people and entities doing business with North Korea, including its shipping and trade networks, further tightening the screws on Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programme.
Trump stopped short of going after North Korea’s biggest trading partner, China, and praised its central bank for ordering Chinese banks to stop doing business with North Korea.
Pyongyang has resisted international pressure, conducting its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3, and launching numerous missiles this year, including two intercontinental ballistic missiles and two other rockets that flew over Japan.
“Today I’m announcing a new executive order, just signed, that significantly expands our authority to target individual companies, financial institutions, that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea,” Trump told reporters ahead of a luncheon meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.
“Our new executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind.” Trump said North Korea’s textiles, fishing, information technology, and manufacturing industries were among those the United States could target.
He said the US Treasury Department would have discretion to sanction foreign banks that conduct transactions tied to trade with North Korea. Trump did not mention North Korea’s oil trade. Four sources told Reuters China’s central bank has told banks to strictly implement United Nations sanctions against North Korea.
The UN Security Council has unanimously imposed nine rounds of sanctions on North Korea since 2006, the latest earlier this month capping fuel supplies to the isolated state. Earlier on Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, sitting with Trump and their respective delegations, said the US president’s warning to Pyongyang in his speech at the UN on Tuesday “will also help to change North Korea.”
Trump warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his address that the United States, if threatened, would “totally destroy” his country of 26 million people. It was Trump’s most direct military threat to attack North Korea and his latest expression of concern about Pyongyang’s repeated launching of ballistic missiles over Japan and underground nuclear tests.
North Korea’s foreign minister likened Trump to a “barking dog” in response. On Thursday, South Korea’s Moon said sanctions were needed to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table and force it to give up its nuclear weapons, but Seoul was not seeking North Korea’s collapse.
“All of our endeavours are to prevent war from breaking out and maintain peace,” Moon said in his speech to the UN General Assembly. He said that Pyongyang’s nuclear issue “needs to be managed stably so that tensions will not become overly intensified and accidental military clashes will not destroy peace.”
Moon, a former human rights activist whom Trump has accused of appeasement towards North Korea, said: “We will not seek unification by absorption or artificial means.” Moon said all countries must strictly adhere to UN sanctions on North Korea and impose tougher steps in the event of new provocations by Pyongyang. In Geneva, North Korea told a UN rights panel that international sanctions would endanger the survival of North Korean children.