U.S. to impose 'largest' N Korea sanctions

Posted February 24, 2018

In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday morning, President Donald Trump called the sanctions the "heaviest" ever imposed on a country.

The measures target one individual, 27 entities and 28 vessels, located or registered in several locations: North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama, and Comoros, the Treasury Department said.

The new US sanctions were announced while Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, is visiting South Korea.

The announcement comes as South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics, an occasion the two Koreas have used as an opportunity to ease tensions and restart talks.

"Under current hard circumstances, we have made a decision to focus on whether peace on the Korean peninsula and improvement in inter-Korean relations can be derived from dialogue with (the visiting North Korean officials), not on their past or who they are", said Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun. If companies "choose to help fund North Korea's nuclear ambitions, they will not do business with the United States".

A 2018 USA intelligence community assessment said that North Korea's commitment to having nuclear weapons, which it describes as "the basis for its survival", suggests that Pyongyang "does not intend to negotiate them away".

The latest round hit nine worldwide shipping companies from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Panama, and nine of their vessels, barring them from doing business with the U.S.

In terms of the number of entities targeted Friday, Mnuchin is probably correct about the history of sanctions on North Korea.

Earlier Friday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, citing no evidence, said that sanctions "are beginning to have a significant impact" on North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

The disclosure that the peace moves were on offer came as Ivanka Trump went on a handshaking diplomatic spree around the games. She
North Korea imposed a media black-out on Pyeongchang Olympics coverage

"We're trying to make sure that the significant reduction in fuel mandated by the United Nations sanctions are unable to be circumvented", senior administration officials told reporters on Friday.

But there are no guarantees Friday's announced sanctions will prevent future efforts by North Korea to circumvent the restrictions.

The advisory has also alerted the industries of North Korea's deceptive shipping practices.

"The President is clearly frustrated, and rightly so, over efforts that have failed in the past and also over the uptick in testing and the advancements we have seen in the North Korean program in the recent period of time and over the last couple of decades", an official said.

He said close cooperation between the US and South Korea is important for the talks.

But North Korean ships have continued to export coal and make ship-to-ship transfers of imported oil and petroleum products in spite of prohibitions set by the United Nations sanctions.

"I also believe that such developments are thanks to President Trump's strong support for inter-Korean dialogue, and I would like to express my deep appreciation on this point as well", Moon said.

"We are very much closing in on one of the primary means that the regime uses to sustain and finance itself and evade sanctions", she said.

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