Treasury escalates pressure on North Korea with more sanctions

Posted December 27, 2017

"Treasury is targeting leaders of North Korea's ballistic missile programs, as part of our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the DPRK and achieve a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula", said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, using the initials for North Korea's official name.

The UN Security Council unanimously voted to impose new sanctions on North Korea on Friday in response to its recent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.

Kim Jong Sik, the Deputy Director of the Workers' Party of Korea Military Industry Department and Ri Pyong Chol, First Vice Department Director of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Committee were both added to OFAC's sanctions list. The report also mentions that Kim Jong-sik is a rocket scientist while Ri Pyong-chol is a former air force general.

Kim played a crucial role in switching North Korea's programs from liquid to solid fuel, a move that could enable the regime to launch missiles with less warning, according to CNBC.

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Tensions have run high as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have engaged in a war of words.

"As a result of today's actions, any property or interests in property of those designated by OFAC within U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and transactions by U.S. persons involving the designated person are generally prohibited", Treasury said, referring to its Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The new measures order North Koreans working overseas to return home within two years, and ban almost 90 per cent of refined petroleum exports to the country.

In a phone call Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his USA counterpart, Rex Tillerson, that it is "necessary to move from the language of sanctions to the negotiating process as soon as possible", the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement, according to AFP.

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The U.N. Security Council adopted two sets of sanctions in response to the North's weapons tests in July and September. North Korea has described the sanctions as an act of war.

Trump has promised to rain "fire and fury" on North Korea if it continues to threaten the United States or its allies.

Colonel Ralph Peters [Ret.] said North Korea is suffering from a "degenerative disease of state" and predicted the Kim regime's insistence on strengthening its nuclear capability is their All-In "poker hand" as a standing government.

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