Trump orders sanctions on companies dealing with North Korea

By Margaret Talev on 9/21/2017

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) --President Donald Trump Thursday ordered new sanctions on individuals, companies and banks doing business with North Korea as the U.S. increases pressure on Pyongyang for its weapons programs.

He also said China’s central bank is ordering financial institutions to stop dealing with Kim Jong Un’s regime, a crucial step by North Korea’s largest trading partner.

Trump said the measures are intended to disrupt critical North Korean shipping and trade networks by targeting any entity that does business with the nation.

“Foreign banks will face a clear choice: do business with the United States or facilitate trade with the lawless regime in North Korea,” Trump said. “The regime can no longer count on others to facilitate its trade and banking activities.”

Trump praised China’s President Xi Jinping for a “very bold move” in acting to cut off financial ties with North Korea and said it was “somewhat unexpected.”

People’s Bank of China posted a notice earlier this month directing financial institutions to stop opening accounts for clients on UN sanctions lists and suspend financial trading and providing export-related credit services for those clients.

Trump announced the U.S. sanctions order at the start of a luncheon meeting in New York with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, key U.S. allies in the region.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is scheduled to give a briefing at 3 p.m. in New York, where Trump and other world leaders are attending the United Nations annual General Assembly.

Mnuchin earlier this month warned the U.S. may impose additional sanctions on China to further squeeze the regime of Kim Jong Un.

The United Nations Security Council this month approved another round of sanctions that seek to cut North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products to 2 MMbbl a year, ban textile exports and strengthen inspections of ships that are believed to be carrying cargo in breach of sanctions. But to avert a threatened veto by China and Russia, the action stopped short of a U.S. demand for a total oil embargo and a freeze on Kim’s assets.

‘Suicide Mission’

In his speech to world leaders on Tuesday, Trump declared that “Rocket Man,” as he derisively called the North Korean leader, is on a “suicide mission” by continuing to test and develop weapons systems. The U.S. president said North Korea’s “reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.”

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said Tuesday.

North Korea has been the most urgent issue before the UN following the Kim regime’s Sept. 3 test of what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb and its launching of two missiles over Japan in the past month.

Trump won Russian and Chinese support for the most recent round of international sanctions on North Korea but indirectly criticized China in his UN address for continuing to trade with the isolated nation.

 

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