Published: Sun, February 25, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

U.S. readies 'largest' sanctions

U.S. readies 'largest' sanctions

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed the sanctions covered virtually all the ships North Korea is using at this moment in time.

Earlier in the day, the Trump administration announced a sweeping sanctions package aimed at curbing the communist dictatorship's weapons development.

Trump did not spell out what "phase two" might be, but he says, "It may be very, very unfortunate for the world".

During a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Trump said sanctions were only the first stage.

"We are releasing new imagery of the deceptive shipping practices used by those who aid and profit from illicit trade with North Korea".

"Hopefully, something positive can happen".

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.

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The timing of the new measures coincides with the arrival in South Korea of Trump's daughter Ivanka.

"We have tremendous support all around the world for what we're doing".

The designations fit into the administration's larger strategy of economically and diplomatically isolating North Korea in an effort to drive it to denuclearize.

The Communist Party of China document states that China will promise the North Koreans to circumvent banking sanctions by stating they would "only apply to state-owned banks controlled by the central government and some regional banks".

"North Korea, we imposed today the heaviest sanctions ever imposed by our country before".

North Korea earned $200 million in revenue a year ago from exports of coal, iron, steel and other banned commodities, the report said.

These measures target more than 50 shipping companies and ships that, according to the USA executive, help Pyongyang to circumvent the many restrictions that the regime is subject to.

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The mission did not provide details but said the action coincided with one taken by the US Treasury Department, which is expected to target "56 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses", according to the White House.

"I will be back here within the next several weeks to talk about that", Mnuchin told reporters at the close of a White House briefing to discuss sanctions on North Korea.

Tighter sanctions plus a more assertive approach at sea could dial up tensions at a time when fragile diplomacy between North and South Korea has gained momentum.

That task became even more challenging this week when North Korea announced its delegation to attend Sunday's closing ceremony would be led by an official blamed for the 2010 sinking of a South Korean navy ship that killed 46 sailors.

"Even if the heavens split in two, we can not allow such a heinous criminal - who must be sliced to death - to be invited to the Olympics closing ceremony". As a result, since 2011, North Korean ships, including those designated today and those still undesignated, can not call in US ports.

That practice is prohibited under the latest United Nations sanctions imposed in September following North Korea's most recent underground nuclear tests.

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While the games appear to have paved the way for possible rapprochement between the Koreas, U.S. and North Korean officials have yet to make direct contact.

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