White House targets North Korean economy with sanctions

By Megan Mayernik
Correspondent

President Donald Trump announced new sanctions against North Korea on Feb. 23, indicating an aggressive attempt to use economic means to put pressure on Kim Jong-un’s government, according to The New York Times.

Trump hints at further aggressive policy decisions. (AP Photo)

The sanctions directly target 56 shipping companies and aim to eliminate sources of revenue for the secluded country. They also intend to limit resources including coal and fuel, which the regime uses to fund its nuclear programs and military, according to NBC.

The sanctions, which were announced at the end of President Trump’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, are an attempt of economic isolation, according to CNN.

“North Korea, we imposed today the heaviest sanctions ever imposed by our country before,” he said. “And frankly, hopefully something positive can happen. We will see.”

Sanctioned companies are based in China, Singapore and Panama, according to The Washington Post.

The PyeongChang Olympic Games brought a brief respite to the tension in the Korean Peninsula. South Korean President Moon Jae-in told The Washington Post that the Olympics “served as an opportunity for us to engage in active discussions between the two Koreas, and this has led to lowering of tensions on the peninsula and an improvement in inter-Korean relations.”

After the sanctions were announced on Feb. 23, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin affirmed the U.S.’ new combative tone.

“The U.S. is aggressively targeting all illicit avenues used by North Korea to evade sanctions, including taking decisive action to block vessels, shipping companies, and entities across the globe that work on North Korea’s behalf,” Mnuchin said in a statement, according to CNN.

When Trump was questioned on the possibility of the sanctions’ ineffectiveness at preventing further North Korean weapons advancements, he hinted at a “phase two” that involved possible military actions that would, as Trump said, “be very unfortunate for the world,” according to NBC.

Vice President Mike Pence chimed in at the Annual Conservative Gathering to remind attendees that the U.S. “doesn’t stand with murderous dictatorships, we stand up to murderous dictatorships,” according to NBC.

In a statement on Feb. 25, North Korean media outlets condemned the sanctions and accused the U.S. of trying to undermine the newly improved inter-Korean relations brought about by the Winter Olympics.

“The two Koreas have cooperated together and the Olympics was held successfully,” said state media, according to NBC. “But the U.S. brought the threat of war to the Korean peninsula with large-scale new sanctions.”

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