US Treasury unveils new sanctions on North Korea trade

by Garry Watts February 24, 2018, 4:58
US Treasury unveils new sanctions on North Korea trade

The U.N. Security Council banned North Korean exports of coal last August 5 under sanctions meant to cut off an important source of the foreign currency Pyongyang needs to fund its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

"This will significantly hinder the Kim regime's capacity to conduct evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, and erode its abilities to ship goods through global waters", Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary, said.

In December the United Nations approved USA -drafted limiting North Korea's access to refined petroleum products and crude oil, which the North Korean Foreign Ministry said amounted to an act of war.

Mnuchin said at least one person on the list of oligarchs close to the Kremlin had already been targeted under a separate US sanctions program.

"They are now basically toxic", Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at Treasury, told TWS. Given long time frames involving major defence deals, they have said it was best to wait until after that date to begin taking punitive action rather than taking action retroactively. That list is comprised of more than a half-dozen countries, including North Korea and China. The administration on Friday also targeted 16 North Korean shipping companies and 19 of their vessels. Pyongyang, an administration official told reporters, is known for using deceptive shipping practices such as painting over vessel names or disabling collision avoidance technology "to try to intentionally mask their movements".

"And even though North Korea has yet to end its nuclear and missile programs, we know the sanctions are having a real impact", Haley said.

While these sanctions exclusively focus on "elicit maritime activity", administration officials made it clear that they are part of the maximum pressure campaign aimed at denuclearization.

Mnuchin said virtually all shipping currently being used by North Korea was now under sanction and the USA government had "issued an advisory alerting the public to the significant sanctions risks to those continuing to enable shipments of goods to and from North Korea". "Approximately half of those have been done in the a year ago".

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On December 28, Trump tweeted: "Caught RED HANDED - very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea".

The U.S. and the United Nations have repeatedly expanded sanctions over the past year as Pyongyang ramped up its missile and nuclear tests.

Treasury, along with the State Department and US Coast Guard, also warned the public of significant sanctions they could face if they help to enable any shipments to goods to and from North Korea in an advisory.

While the new sanctions focus on worldwide shipping, the administration is also working on a response to the regime's illicit cyber activities, a senior administration official said.

Trump's adviser and daughter, Ivanka Trump, arrived Friday in South Korea to attend the Pyeongchang closing ceremony.

Assets held by the firms within the U.S. will also be blocked.

Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to meet with top North Korean officials earlier this month, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute, according to press reports.

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