US President Donald Trump signed a new executive order to impose new sanctions on North Korea, as Washington and its allies attempt to pressure North Korean leader to abandon his nuclear ambitions.
In his sanctions announcement on Thursday at a press conference, Trump announced the additional sanctions on Pyongyang, including on its shipping and trade networks.
Ahead of Trump’s lunch meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Thursday, he was asked if diplomacy was still possible, Trump nodded and said: “Why not?”
Trump said the new executive order on sanctions gives further authorities to target individual companies and institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea. He explained that it will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind.
US Treasury Department now had authority to target those that conduct significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea.
The sanctions also targeted North Korea’s energy, medical, mining, textiles, and transportation industries, in addition, that US Treasury could sanction anyone who owns, controls or operates a port of entry in North Korea.
Washington also announced that banks doing business in North Korea would not be allowed to also operate in the United States.
“Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that going forward they can choose to do business with the United States or with North Korea, but not both,” US Treasury stated.
Trump also declared that China's Central Bank had instructed other Chinese banks to stop doing business with Pyongyang. Beijing didn’t confirm Trump’s announcement.
In a related matter, ambassadors from 28 EU member states agreed on a package of new autonomous measures against North Korea, and they will now be prepared in detail to be formally approved by a meeting of EU foreign ministers at their October 16 meeting.
The EU plans to reduce how much money North Korean workers in Europe can send home from its current level of 15,000 euros.
In addition, EU plans to add around eight new North Korean officials were likely to be added to the sanctions list, which is also expected to be adopted by EU foreign ministers meeting.
A number of North Korean workers in Poland are also expected to be cut from 500 to 300, which will be discussed during EU’s meeting.
North Korea crisis was dominant over most UN speeches on Thursday including a harsh rhetoric toward North Korea from President Trump who threatened to obliterate the country.
Trump hosted President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for lunch in New York after which he announced that North Korea’s nuclear weapons and nuclear development is a threat to peace and security in the world, and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime.
“The brutal North Korean regime does not respect its own citizens or the sovereignty of other nations,” Trump added.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in made a plea at the United Nations to scale back tensions with North Korea.
“We should manage the North Korea nuclear crisis in a stable manner so that tensions are not escalated too much or peace is not destroyed by accidental military clashes,” Moon said on Thursday at the UN General Assembly.
President Jae-in demanded North Korea to stop its reckless choice of pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also urged at UNGA international unity in pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. He said on Wednesday the “gravity of this threat is unprecedented.”
Abe appealed for nations to fully implement UN sanctions, saying the aid-for-disarmament negotiations had failed in the past two decades and concluded that pressure is needed.
Japanese PM also voiced support for the US stance that “all options are on the table.”
On the other hand, French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country would not turn its back on negotiations concerning North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
In related news, South Korea approved an $8 million aid package for North Korea. South Korea’s unification ministry agreed to provide the funds, which will go towards programmes for infants and pregnant women.
The ministry said humanitarian aid to impoverished North Korea should remain unaffected by rising political tensions on the peninsula.
The aid package did not include cash payments, the ministry said, and there was “realistically no possibility” that it could be of any use to the North Korean military.