September 28, 2017 11:07
The U.S. government on Tuesday announced more sanctions against 10 North Korean banks and 26 individuals. The announcement came just five days after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order authorizing a secondary boycott of countries and individuals who engage in business with North Korea.
"We are targeting North Korean banks and financial facilitators acting as representatives for North Korean banks across the globe," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "This further advances our strategy to fully isolate North Korea in order to achieve our broader objectives of a peaceful and denuclearized Korean Peninsula."
The Treasury Department said the North Korean banks on its fresh list are Agricultural Development Bank, Cheil Credit Bank, Hana Banking Corporaton, International Industrial Development Bank, Jinmyong Joint Bank, Jinsong Joint Bank, Koryo Commercial Bank and Ryugyong Commercial Bank.
Hana and Jinmyong were created in conjunction with Chinese investors, so the ban could signal the start of U.S. sanctions against more Chinese banks that have dealings with the North.
The 26 individuals are North Korean representatives of North Korean banks in Russia, Libya and the UAE, but the bulk are in China with 19.
The U.S. assets of the blacklisted banks and individuals can be seized or frozen. They probably do not have any, but the aim is to stop any dollar transactions that might flow through American exchange banks.
The U.S. is poised to expand the targets to foreign businesses and citizens. The next target is expected to be Chinese banks that deal with North Korea. The Treasury Department is also considering sanctions against ships that enter North Korean ports.
Meanwhile, Trump issued more dire threats against the North. After a summit with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Trump said. "If we have to take [the military option] we will. It will be devastating, I can tell you that, devastating for North Korea."
Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is "acting very badly." He also thanked Rajoy for exiling the North Korean ambassador.
In a Senate hearing earlier in the day, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford said it is only a matter of time before North Korea develops a nuclear weapon capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
"Whether it's three months or six months or 18 months, it is soon, and we ought to conduct ourselves as though it is just a matter of time, and a matter of very short time, before North Korea has that capability," he said.
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