President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday unveiled a sweeping new lineup of sanctions against North Korea, promising to target 28 vessels and 27 shipping companies, plus one individual, in an effort to further isolate the rogue regime.
North Korea’s shipping industry is “a primary means by which North Korea evades sanctions to fund its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs,” the U.S. Department of the Treasury said in an advisory Friday. “As such, the United States will continue targeting persons, wherever located, who facilitate North Korea’s illicit shipping practices.”
The pronouncement came just hours after Ivanka Trump, on a visit to South Korea timed with the end of the 2018 Winter Olympics, dined with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. She used the trip as an opportunity to reinforce the Trump administration’s “commitment to our maximum-pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized,” according to a pool report.
Vice President Mike Pence reportedly planned to meet with North Korean officials during his visit to Pyeongchang for the Olympics, but the gathering was called off after he used the trip to criticize the regime.
Speaking Friday from the White House, in front of photos that he said showed fuel-to-fuel transfers benefiting North Korea, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the administration plans to do everything in its power to curtail the activity.
“Those who trade with North Korea do so at their own peril,” Mnuchin said.
Pyongyang has tested several ballistic missiles in recent months, putting them on display during a massive military parade earlier this month. President Trump’s strategy has consisted of outlandish and bellicose threats of military action directed at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, even bragging that his “nuclear button” is bigger and more powerful than Kim’s. Trump has also demanded that China step up and use its bargaining power with the reclusive regime to call for denuclearization.
The United Nations Security Council adopted a round of sanctions against North Korea in December, targeting exports of gasoline, diesel and refined oil to the country.
“We imposed, today, the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before,” Trump said Friday in remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. “Hopefully, something positive can happen. We will see.”
This story has been updated to include remarks from Mnuchin and President Trump.