Trump announces new North Korea sanctions

US And Its Allies Prepare High Seas Crackdown On North Korea

US And Its Allies Prepare High Seas Crackdown On North Korea

North Korea might be only a few months away from completing development of a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States mainland, despite existing global sanctions that, at times, have been sidestepped by smuggling and ship-to-ship transfers at sea of banned goods, officials have said.

The latest American actions target shipping and trade companies, vessels and individuals across the world who are working on North Korea's behalf, he said.

The US Treasury said the sanctions were created to disrupt North Korean shipping and trading companies and vessels and further isolate Pyongyang. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the USA has now blacklisted virtually all ships being used by the North. He told a White House news conference that could be "very rough" and "very unfortunate for the world".

"It really is a rogue nation", Trump said in reference to North Korea.

At another briefing, Mnuchin stood next to enlarged photos he said showed December 2017 images that revealed ship-to-ship transfers of fuel and other products destined for North Korea in an attempt to evade sanctions.

Washington on Friday slapped sanctions on dozens more companies and vessels linked to North Korean shipping trade and urged the United Nations to blacklist a list of entities, a move it said was aimed at shutting down North Korea's illicit maritime smuggling activities to obtain oil and sell coal.

While these sanctions exclusively focus on "illicit maritime activity", administration officials made it clear that they are part of the maximum pressure campaign aimed at denuclearization. He vowed the US would "do everything" to stop the ship-to-ship transfers.

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"Through today's actions, we are putting companies and countries across the world on notice that this administration views compliance with USA and United Nations sanctions as a national security imperative".

The US-led initiative shows Washington's increasing urgency to force North Korea into negotiations over the abandonment of its weapons programs, the officials said. "But that just was announced, and I wanted to let you know we have imposed the heaviest sanctions ever imposed", Trump said soon after the Department of Treasury announced a series of tough sanctions.

The announcement comes as South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics, an occasion the two Koreas have used as an opportunity to ease tensions and restart talks.

The new U.S. sanctions were announced while Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, is visiting South Korea.

Christopher Ford, assistant secretary of state for worldwide security and non-proliferation, told reporters sanctions already had affected North Korea's weapons programmes and this was shown by the lengths North Korea was going to try to evade sanctions.

The agencies also alerted those industries of North Korea's deceptive shipping practices.

North Korea has been known to falsify and hide information displayed on North Korean vessels and conduct ship-to-ship transfers, now prohibited by the United Nations.

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