Trump announces 'largest ever' set of sanctions against North Korea

Frederick Owens
February 24, 2018

The sanctions will target 56 vessels, shipping companies, and trading businesses that are helping the regime to evade sanctions.

A senior US administration official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, called the new penalties "the largest package of new sanctions against the North Korea regime", without giving details.

The Treasury Department, in conjunction with the State Department and the U.S. Coast Guard, is issuing a global shipping advisory meant to alert the world to North Korea's "deceptive shipping practices", the official said.

The U.S. and the United Nations have repeatedly expanded sanctions over the past year as Pyongyang ramped up its missile and nuclear tests. Those sanctions are also heavily restricting North Korean fuel supplies.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce Friday that the Treasury Department will impose new sanctions against North Korea.

The timing of Mr. Trump's announcement was notable, coming just hours after South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, played host at dinner to Mr. Trump's daughter, Ivanka, who is leading the United States delegation to the closing ceremony of the games on Sunday.

Though Russia has traded with North Korea, it wasn't mentioned Friday as a country of origination for any of the sanctioned companies or vessels.

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China has backed successive rounds of sanctions but has been wary of USA efforts to toughen these further and has been accused by US officials of not fully implementing existing United Nations steps.

"Today's actions will significantly hinder North Korea's ability to conduct evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, and limit the regime's ability to ship goods through global waters", announced Mnuchin.

A top United States official says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been briefed - and fully supports - a raft of new sanctions against North Korea.

Recent reports from Japan, South Korea and the US all indicate that several of North Korea's oil tankers are involved in the ship to ship (STS) transfers of fuel products at sea. "We will see, but hopefully something positive can happen", Trump said.

Because North Korea is so heavily sanctioned, it was not immediately clear what impact additional punitive measures might have.

Ivanka Trump arrived in Seoul on Friday to lead the US delegation to the closing ceremonies, and Mnuchin said she had been briefed on the sanctions and informed South Korean President Moon Jae-in of them personally.

In the document, the U.S. Treasury Department in conjunction with the Department of State and the Coast Guard outline the North's deceptive practices which enable it to circumvent maritime sanctions.

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