The Korea Herald


US closely watching for N. Korea’s possible financial sanction violations

By Park Han-na

Published : May 23, 2019 - 17:10

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US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Donald Trump has firm willingness to implement sanctions against North Korea, in another signal that the country will not pursue sanctions relief in order to resume nuclear talks.

“The president is determined that we continue our efforts to enforce both the UN sanctions and the US sanctions against North Korea,” he said at the US House Committee on Financial Services on Tuesday. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before the House Committee on Fina ncial Services on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday. (AP-Yonhap) Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before the House Committee on Fina ncial Services on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday. (AP-Yonhap)

Mnuchin said sanctions are effective leverage to bring North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table. “Across multiple arenas, they’ve all be very effective,” he said.

When Rep. French Hill pointed out loopholes in implementing financial sanctions against the North, Mnuchin assured Hill that the department is on top of the issue.

He said his undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence had traveled abroad to discuss the matter with financial institutions.

“We are very focused on money transfer items, we are focused on people doing money laundering, we are working very closely with the intelligence community on classifying certain information and enhancing UN sanctions with our specific sanctions against people who are trying to use the financial system,” he said.

The latest action taken by the Trump administration to pressure North Korea was the seizure of the communist country’s second-largest cargo ship that allegedly violated international sanctions.

On Wednesday, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Han Tae-song, described the seizure as a “wanton violation of international law” and the “biggest stumbling block” to improving its relations with the US, in an interview with Reuters.

Pyongyang has been voicing concerns through diplomatic channels and demanded the immediate return of the vessel.

On Tuesday, North Korea’s UN Ambassador Kim Song warned the US of consequences on the future of relations, in a rare press conference at the UN in New York.

The US Justice Department announced May 8 that it had seized the 177-meter vessel on suspicions of transferring coal and machinery in violation of UN and US sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.

After a second summit between Trump and Kim ended without an agreement in February, North Korea has been seeking to increase its leverage in negotiations. Pyongyang fired off two short-range missiles in early May. It has sought diplomatic support from its traditional ally Russia by holding a summit with President Vladimir Putin on April 25.

By Park Han-na (