President Trump on Thursday unveiled new economic sanctions targeting North Korea’s banking and trade partners and some of the country’s industries, but he left the door open to future dialogue with the Stalinist regime of Kim Jong Un.
“Our new executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind,” Trump told reporters. “In addition, what we will do is identify new industries — including textiles, fishing, IT, and manufacturing — that the Treasury Department can target with strong sanctions.”
The order empowers the Treasury Department to impose what are known as “secondary sanctions” that target banks and companies that do business with North Korea, a kind of bank shot that aims to tighten the vise on Kim’s ability to fund his nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
“Foreign banks will face a clear choice: Do business with the U.S. or facilitate trade with the lawless regime in North Korea,” the president said.
Trump also praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his central bank’s directive to Chinese financial institutions to stop doing business with North Korea and its citizens, describing that decision as a “very bold move” that was “somewhat unexpected.” China historically accounts for the lion’s share of North Korea’s external banking and trade.
Trump’s announcement came as he began a working lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly — showcasing a united front on the North Korean issue. Xi skipped the annual gathering, as he typically does.
Asked whether negotiations with Kim were still possible, Trump replied, “Why not?”
That appeared to be a departure from his position in late August, when he declared on Twitter, “Talking is not the answer.”
North Korea recently tested a nuclear weapon that it says is a hydrogen bomb and fired an intercontinental ballistic missile thought to be able to reach the U.S. mainland. But questions remain about the reliability of its guidance systems and whether it has devised the technology to prevent its warheads from burning up upon reentry into the atmosphere.
It’s not clear to what extent the new measures will change Kim’s behavior. U.S….