U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of a plan to impose additional large-scale sanctions on North Korea Friday (local time). The comment came on the heels of the U.S. Treasury’s designation of two Chinese firms for helping Pyongyang evade sanctions, which was met by North Korea’s pullout from the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong and mentioning of a “nuclear button.”
“It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large-scale sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions,” Trump tweeted Friday. The post caused confusion within not only the media but also the White House and related ministries, but what the leader meant to say was apparently that the existing sanctions will remain in place and there will be no additional sanctions. “Sanctions (announced on Thursday) will not be withdrawn, and those against the Chinese firms will also remain in place. What Trump meant is, as he had already said (after the Hanoi summit), that the United States will not impose additional (large-scale) sanctions on North Korea for now,” a diplomatic source said.
However, by levying additional sanctions on the North in less than a month after the Hanoi summit and mentioning a separate plan to impose large-scale sanctions, Washington is signaling it can do so at any time depending on the North’s actions. The Trump administration is making clear its intention to keep sanctions in place, even though North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui mentioned a possible suspension of a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests. Still, following Trump’s tweet, the White House press secretary clarified that “President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”
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