BlackHouse, Sep. 28 – The United States has imposed new sanctions on North Korea, targeting the country’s major banks and 26 executives, amid increasing tensions between the two countries over US military build-up on the Korean peninsula and Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
“This further advances our strategy to fully isolate North Korea in order to achieve our broader objectives of a peaceful and denuclearized Korean peninsula,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on Tuesday.
This comes days after US President Donald Trump authorized the Department of the Treasury to “target any individual or entity that conducts trade in goods, services or technology” with North Korea.
The presidential order also includes measures aimed at disrupting “critical North Korean shipping and trade networks.”
The latest sanctions target North Korean officials working as representatives of the country’s banks in China, Russia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.
Washington froze all property and interest of the designated companies and officials in the United States, essentially cutting them out of much of the global financial system.
The US sanctions are aimed at North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank and the Central Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as North Korean government agencies.
The US Treasury accused the Foreign Trade Bank of carrying out transactions on behalf of the North Korean military’s weapons development program.
The new sanctions also came days after Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the nuclear-armed nation, which is opposed to US hegemony.
Trump has said North Korea’s nuclear and ballistics programs “is a grave threat to peace and security in our world, and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal rogue regime.”
Trump warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a speech to the UN General Assembly last week that the United States would “totally destroy” the country of 26 million people if necessary.
In a letter to international leaders on Sunday, a North Korean parliamentary committee said Trump’s threat constitutes a declaration of war against Pyongyang.
The letter described Trump’s comments as an “intolerable insult to the Korean people, a declaration of war against North Korea and grave threats to the global peace.”
“If Trump thinks that he would bring North Korea, a nuclear power, to its knees through nuclear war threat, it is a big miscalculation and ignorance,” read the letter.
Analysts say Trump’s threats against North Korea are counterproductive and justify Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs that it insists are for self-defense. They say Trump’s speech could have an opposite effect, intensifying the deteriorating situation in the Korean Peninsula.