US President Donald Trump announced on Friday new sanctions to further isolate North Korea, just hours after the arrival of his daughter Ivanka in South Korea for the end of the Olympics.
These measures target more than 50 shipping companies and ships that, according to the US executive, help Pyongyang to circumvent the many restrictions that the regime is subject to. “Today we imposed the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country,” Trump said at the CPAC conference, the biggest annual meeting of US conservatives.
Their goal is to continue to cut the sources of income and oil “that the regime uses to finance its nuclear program and its army,” said the White House.
According to the US Treasury, these sanctions target an individual, 27 entities and 28 vessels located or registered in North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and Comoros. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin pointed out that they concern virtually every ship that North Korea uses to date.
“We must remain united to prevent this brutal dictatorship from threatening the world with nuclear devastation,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
And if the sanctions do not work? “We will have to go to phase 2, it could be tough,” said the US president, seeming to mention the military option. “But let’s hope the sanctions work.”
The Kim Jong Un regime is already subject to many sanctions imposed by Washington and the United Nations to force it to give up his nuclear and ballistic programs.
In 2017, the Security Council unanimously imposed three sets of economic sanctions on North Korea, all stronger than the others: August 5 (iron, coal, fishing …), September 11 (textile, limited oil deliveries) and December 22 (refined petroleum products in particular).
A few months ago, Trump accused China of delivering oil to North Korea despite the sanctions, a claim categorically rejected by Beijing.
Ivanka Trump at the Blue House
“The Treasury is strongly attacking the illegal routes used by North Korea to escape sanctions,” Mnuchin insisted, citing in particular deliveries of coal and oil.
According to him, the sanctions are intended to remind “companies around the world that if they decide to help finance the nuclear ambitions of North Korea, they will not be able to do business with the United States.”
Arriving Friday night in Seoul, Ivanka Trump, very close to her father, of whom she is also a counselor, participated in a dinner at the Blue House with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The White House said it had sent a personal message to President Moon from Trump regarding the announcement of the sanctions.
In a brief speech, she emphasized the “friendship” between Washington and Seoul, but also reaffirmed the US’s determination to put “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang to ensure that the Korean peninsula is denuclearized.
The Olympic Games in Pyeongchang have contributed to a spectacular relaxation on the peninsula.
For the opening ceremony, the North Korean leader had sent his sister, Kim Yo Jong, who was only a few rows away from US Vice President Mike Pence.
Pyongyang will send Sunday an official eight-member delegation led by General Kim Yong Chol to the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. But the White House said no meeting between US and North Korean envoys was on the agenda.