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South Korea says United States sanctions on North Korea will bolster UN resolutions

24 February 2018, 07:10 | Katrina Lee

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She will be heading up the USA delegation attending the closing ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The punitive measures, which follow multiple rounds of earlier sanctions, signal United States officials' determination to use financial pressure to prompt North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to relinquish nuclear weapons, and their concern that under-the-radar fossil fuel trade undermines their ability to do so.

The United States on Friday announced a fresh package of sanctions on North Korea that President Donald Trump called the "largest-ever" set of punishments aimed at pressing the reclusive country to give up its nuclear and missile programs.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed new North Korea related designations targeting one individual, 27 entities, and 28 ships, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Friday. They're located, registered or flagged in countries all over the world, including North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and Comoros.

The US and its allies say the illegal ship-to-ship transfers at sea of oil and coal have enabled the North to blunt the impact of the sanctions on its economy.

"This will significantly hinder the Kim regime's capacity to conduct evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, and erode its abilities to ship goods through worldwide waters", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an accompanying press release.

The US government also labeled a Taiwanese citizen, Tsang Yung Yuan, who has coordinated North Korea coal exports with a Russia-based North Korean broker. And frankly, hopefully something positive can happen.

With UN sanctions on North Korea at an all-time high, China is set to release a trade report detailing Beijing's compliance.

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The point of these sanctions, an official said, is not just to punish the rouge nation, but to raise "the cost of doing business with North Korea" for other countries.

But were the Treasury Department designations of more than 50 companies and ships accused of illicit trading with the pariah nation really the toughest action yet by the USA and the wider world?

"We'll have to see", Trump said.

The differences in how the US and South Korea hope to achieve denuclearization were also apparent during the banquet.

South Korea's first lady Kim Jung-sook (C), Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (R) and Ivanka Trump, the US president's daughter and senior advisor, watch the men's big air final competition at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the northeastern city of PyeongChang on February 24, 2018.

"Tougher sanctions may jeopardise the latest detente between the two Koreas, illustrated by the North's participation in the Winter Olympics in the South, amid preparations for talks about a possible summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in".

"Those who trade with North Korea do so at their own peril", Mnuchin said.

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