United States imposed first new North Korea sanctions since failed summit

Vastavam web: The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on two Chinese shipping companies it says helped North Korea evade sanctions over its nuclear weapons program, the first such steps since a U.S.-North Korean summit collapsed last month. The U.S. Treasury Department also issued an updated advisory that listed 67 vessels that it said had engaged in illicit transfers of refined petroleum with North Korean tankers or were believed to have exported North Korean coal.

The department identified the newly sanctioned firms as Dalian Haibo International Freight Co Ltd and Liaoning Danxing International Forwarding Co Ltd, which it said had helped North Korea evade U.S. and international sanctions. The move prohibits U.S. dealings with the designated companies and freezes any assets they have in the United States.

Washington announced the measures three weeks after a second meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un broke down over conflicting demands by North Korea for relief from sanctions and from the U.S. side for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. “The United States and our like-minded partners remain committed to achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and believe that the full implementation of North Korea-related U.N. Security Council resolutions is crucial to a successful outcome,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“Treasury will continue to enforce our sanctions, and we are making it explicitly clear that shipping companies employing deceptive tactics to mask illicit trade with North Korea expose themselves to great risk,” he added. The official said that financial as well as shipping companies risked U.S. action if they were found to be in violation of sanctions. The official insisted, however, that Thursday’s announcement was meant to maintain sanctions enforcement on North Korea rather than intensify the pressure.

While declining to say whether Washington was trying to send a post-summit message to Pyongyang, the official said Trump “has made clear that the door is wide open to continuing the dialogue with North Korea.”