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U.S. imposes additional sanctions on North Korea

Posted January. 26, 2018 08:10,   

Updated January. 26, 2018 08:52


After the U.S. Department of Treasury announced new sanctions against North Korean individuals and entities Wednesday, including the Ministry of Crude Oil Industry, CNN commented that despite South Korea’s efforts to open the door to dialogue with the North through the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, the Trump administration is refusing to give Pyongyang some time to breathe. Regardless of the temporary thaw on the Korean Peninsula, the United States is stepping up its sanctions and military pressures on the communist state.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added five North Korean shipping companies, six vessels and the Ministry of Crude Oil Industry to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List in connection with their management and transportation of coal and petroleum products restricted by the United Nations. In particular, the sanctions on the North Korean vessels indicate Washington’s stronger commitment to maritime blockade to address the North’s trading of contraband cargo through illicit ship-to-ship transfers.

Some observers say it is unusual for the Trump administration to announce additional North Korea sanctions at a time when talks are going on between the two Koreas. “The United States does not trust the North’s commitment to dialogue and is intensifying its maximum pressures,” one diplomatic source said, suggesting that despite progress made in the inter-Korean dialogue, Washington will maintain its tough stance against Pyongyang until North Korea comes to the negotiating table for its denuclearization.

The White House does not seem to pin high hopes on the possibility that the inter-Korean talks will lead to a dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington. “Everyone recognizes that we can’t repeat the mistakes of the past; really, to fall for what in the past has been the North Korean ploy to create the illusion of success in talks, and to use that lock in the status quo as the new normal while they continue to pursue these (nuclear) programs with undiminished vigor,” said White House National Security Adviser Herbert McMaster during a news briefing on Tuesday.

The Trump administration is reportedly reviewing various military options in the event of the North’s further provocations after the Winter Olympics. CNBC reported on Wednesday that the White House is considering a possible pre-emptive "bloody nose" strike on North Korean missile facilities.

Jeong-Hun Park sunshade@donga.com