US imposes sanctions on North Korean banks and executives

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(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on October 1, 2017 shows, US President Donald Trump at Morristown, New Jersey, Municipal Airport on September 15, 2017; and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un waving following a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017. Trump said on October 1, 2017, negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program would be a waste of time, after it emerged that Washington had channels of contact with Pyongyang. Only hours after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed that US officials were in touch with North Korean counterparts, Trump undercut his top diplomat by declaring on Twitter that any talks would be futile. -- AFP

WASHINGTON — The US imposed sanctions on eight North Korean banks and 26 executives on Tuesday, ratcheting up pressure on the country amid increasingly bellicose exchanges with Pyongyang over its nuclear program.

“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.

Tuesday’s announcement compounded economic sanctions which the United Nations unanimously imposed on North Korea after it carried out its latest nuclear weapons test early this month.

The new sanctions target North Koreans working as representatives of North Korean banks in China, Russia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.

All property and interest of the designated companies and individuals in the US are blocked by the sanctions, effectively freezing them out of much of the global financial system.

The US targeted North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank and the Central Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as North Korean government agencies.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control — which overseas US sanctions programs — said that the Foreign Trade Bank had carried out transactions on behalf of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program.

The fresh sanctions also came the same day President Donald Trump ignored pleas to tone down his anti-Pyongyang rhetoric, accusing the regime of having tortured a captive US student “beyond belief.”

General Joe Dunford, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, testified before lawmakers on Tuesday that for the time being the confrontation with North Korea was more political than military. — AFP