U.S. imposes new sanctions on North Korea

United States imposes largest package of sanctions against North Korea.

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Elad Benari, Canada,

Steven Mnuchin
Steven Mnuchin

The United States announced on Friday it was imposing its largest package of sanctions against North Korea, intensifying pressure on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and missile programs, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Treasury sanctioned one person, 27 companies and 28 ships, according to a statement on its website.

The actions block assets held by the firms in the United States and prohibit U.S. citizens from dealing with them.

The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the sanctions, which are designed to disrupt North Korean shipping and trading companies and vessels and to further isolate Pyongyang.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement the sanctions against the ships would help prevent the government of Kim Jong Un from conducting "evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports and erode its abilities to ship goods through international waters."

The ships are located, registered or flagged in North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and Comoros, said the Treasury.

Those targeted included a Taiwanese passport holder and mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore shipping and energy firms.

In January, the United States slapped sanctions on North Korean and Chinese firms and individuals that it said support Kim’s regime and his nuclear weapons program.

A month earlier, the U.S. announced sanctions on two North Korean officials behind their country’s ballistic missile program.

North Korea is seeking to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim have taunted each other through the media in recent months.

In the most recent of its ongoing missile tests, North Korea launched a Hwasong-15 missile, a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which officials said can fly over 13,000 km (8,080 miles).

Pyongyang said following the launch that it had test-fired its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range, and also declared itself to be "a responsible nuclear power".

Kim claimed in January that his country has developed the capability to hit the entire U.S. mainland with its nuclear weapons.

“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” Kim said in a televised New Year’s Day speech.

Trump later fired back, writing on Twitter, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

On Friday, Trump said of the new sanctions, "We imposed today the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before. And ... hopefully something positive can happen, we will see."

Mnuchin said he could not rule out the prospect of the United States boarding and inspecting North Korean ships.

He said the new sanctions are targeting virtually all shipping currently being used by North Korea. They bring the total number of U.S. sanctions against North Korea since 2005 to 450, Mnuchin said, with approximately half of those coming in the last year.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)