China tells United States to stop unilateral North Korea actions

Donald Trump Kim Jong Un

Donald Trump Kim Jong Un

WASHINGTON | The heaviest, the largest, the most impactful.

South Korea's first lady Kim Jung-sook and Ivanka Trump, the U.S. president's daughter and senior advisor, watched a snowboarding competition together at the ongoing PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Saturday, a presidential aide here said.

In light of past USA embargoes, that is likely an overstatement, but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed the sanctions covered "virtually all the ships" North Korea is "using at this moment in time".

The Trump administration escalated pressure on North Korea Friday by slapping sanctions on scores of companies and ships accused of illicit trading with the pariah nation.

President Donald Trump is expected to address the new penalties Friday at a conservative gathering in Washington.

South Korea on Saturday welcomed fresh unilateral sanctions described as the heaviest ever adopted by the U.S. against North Korea, and said the measures would contribute towards the common goal of the denuclearisation of Pyongyang in a peaceful manner.

North Korea has been widely condemned for its repeated testing of nuclear weapons and conventional missiles.

Due to the sanctions, China's trade with North Korea fell to $215.97 million in January, the lowest since June 2014, according to data from the General Administration of Customs released on Friday.

They are also aimed at ships located, registered or flagged in North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and the Comoros.

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More than 50 ships and shipping companies were cited by the Treasury Department for evading existing USA and worldwide sanctions.

Despite the ongoing efforts by the USA administration, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has insisted his country will never give up the nuclear program and has been making rapid advances over the past year.

But in purely economic terms, both Mnuchin and Trump are well wide of the mark.

Recall that the UN Security Council on 22 December 2017, unanimously adopted a resolution to tighten sanctions against North Korea for its missile and nuclear tests.

Meanwhile, at the White House, Mnuchin said the determined to reach its ultimate goal for North Korea. If those measures are properly implemented, that would reduce the North's export revenues by 90 percent from 2016 levels or by $2.3 billion annually. It also called on Taiwan firms and citizens not to break United Nations sanctions.

Moon said North Korea's participation in the Olympics was an "opportunity" for inter-Korean dialogue, which had "led to lowering of tensions on the peninsula and an improvement in inter-Korean relations".

So the big question is this: Will she end up in the same position as Pence - in a VIP box with a North Korean delegation nearby? Moon said the US and South Korea should make use of the current mood of rapprochement between the Koreas in seeking denuclearization.

Mnuchin said the images from December of past year show transfer of fuel and other products from ships to ships bound for North Korea.

"As impressive as the list is in length, it is underwhelming in its scope and fails to live up to the hype", it said. It had also supplied aluminum oxide and other materials that can be used in processing nuclear bomb fuel.

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