WASHINGTON -- The United States on Tuesday threatened to impose additional sanctions on China if it fails to implement the new United Nations sanctions against North Korea.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explicitly mentioned China, saying the US would be willing to block North Korea's main ally and trade partner from accessing the global financial system.
"If China doesn't follow these sanctions, we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the US and international dollar system, and that's quite meaningful," he told a conference in New York, broadcast on CNBC.
In June, the US blacklisted China's Bank of Dandong as a "primary money laundering concern" in connection with North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. That move, according to Mnuchin, was unprecedented.
"I think we've absolutely moved the needle on China," he said. "I think what they agreed to yesterday was historic."
|This AP file photo shows US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. (Yonhap)|
On Monday, China backed the UN Security Council's unanimous adoption of new sanctions in response to North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3. While the measures included caps on North Korea's imports of oil and a ban on textile exports, they fell short of Washington's demands for a complete oil embargo and asset freeze on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
"I'm very pleased with the resolution that was just passed," Mnuchin said. "This is some of the strongest items. We now have more tools in our toolbox, and we will continue to use them and put additional sanctions on North Korea until they stop this behavior."
He argued that "economic warfare works" in North Korea.
In response to whether sanctions on China could harm American businesses, Mnuchin made clear that the president's top concern is North Korea and security.
"When it comes to nuclear testing, when it comes to missiles, our No. 1 priority is the safety of the American people, not the economics of multinational companies," he said.
Speaking to Fox News shortly after the nuclear test, Mnuchin had said he would prepare new sanctions to cut off all North Korean trade with other countries.
He had not mentioned China, which is responsible for about 90 percent of North Korea's trade. (Yonhap)