Treasury announces 'largest-ever' sanctions against North Korea

Treasury announces 'largest-ever' sanctions against North Korea”

"We are ramping up the pressure on the North Korean regime, and we're going to use every tool at our disposal, including working with our allies and through the UN, to increase the pressure until North Korea reverses course", US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in a statement.

North Korea advanced its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development programs at an alarming rate previous year, testing intercontinental ballistic missiles able to range the continental US and hydrogen bombs created to level entire cities.

Announced by Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) the sanctioned ships are registered or flagged in China, Comoros, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Panama, Singapore, Taiwan, and Tanzania - as well as North Korea.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control described the move as the largest North Korea-related sanctions action yet, in the ongoing U.S. "maximum pressure campaign" to force Pyongyang to relinquish its nuclear weapons and missile programmes. If the sanctions don't work we'll have to go to phase two.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the USA is seeking to "significantly hinder" North Korea's ability to conduct illicit shipping in worldwide waters.

The US is also issuing a global shipping advisory, in conjunction with the Coast Guard and the State Department, to put everyone on notice of North Korea's illicit maritime tactics, and underscore the significant sanctions risk of engaging in maritime business with North Korea, Mnuchin said. And frankly, hopefully something positive can happen.

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The Security Council unanimously voted to ban almost 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea, and order North Koreans who work overseas to return to the country within 24 months, on December 22.

The sanctions freeze any United States assets and ban U.S. businesses and people from any dealings with the targets. The administration on Friday also targeted 16 North Korean shipping companies and 19 of their vessels. In her remarks, Trump said she was in South Korea to celebrate the Olympics and to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to a "maximum pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized". Her arrival at the airport was broadcast live on TV, and she had dinner with President Moon Jae-in in the presidential compound, according to South Korean media.

During his recent trip to the Asia Pacific, Vice President Mike Pence offered a preview of the latest move in the administration's maximum pressure campaign, revealing in Japan the president's plan to hammer North Korea with the "toughest sanctions ever".

The differences in how the US and South Korea hope to achieve denuclearization were also apparent during the banquet.

"We are working on Russian Federation sanctions", Mnuchin said.

Ivanka Trump is in South Korea as part of the U.S. delegation that will attend the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the US has now blacklisted virtually all ships being used by the North.

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