President Donald Trump, speaking alongside newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, told reporters on Friday that the United States’ patience with Kim Jong Un’s North Korean regime is “over.”
“The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed,” Trump said in a statement from the Rose Garden. “And, frankly, that patience is over.”
The North Korean dictatorship has no regard for the safety and security of its people or its neighbors and has no respect for human life — and that’s been proven over and over again,” the President continued. He then added that “The nuclear and ballistic missile programs of that regime require a determined response.”
The day before President Trump made this statement, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a new series of sanctions, targeting U.S. ties to China’s Bank of Dandong. The bank is accused of serving as a pipeline of financial support for the North Korean government.
“We will cut the money off to North Korea until they behave properly,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, before adding that the Bank of Dandong would not have any access to U.S. financial institutions through other foreign banks either.
“It’s the first bank that we’ve cut off,” the secretary said. “We will continue to look at these actions and we will continue to roll out sanctions. We are committed to cutting off all illegal funds going to North Korea.”
This new set of sanctions is only the latest in an international effort to place enough economic pressure on the reclusive North Korean state to convince them to halt their nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs. Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s Supreme Leader, has repeatedly issued threats of preemptive nuclear strikes against the United States and its allies while testing increasingly advanced missile delivery systems they could potentially use to follow through on such statements.
By targeting banks outside of North Korea, the Trump administration, along with allies in Italy, Germany, Canada and Britain, among others, hope to influence the regime to reconsider their claim that their nuclear pursuits will not be deterred. The United States has repeatedly pressed the Chinese government to increase economic pressure as well, though they have been reluctant to do so.
“I wish we would have a little more help with respect to North Korea from China, but that doesn’t seem to be working out,” Trump said last week after tweeting that Chinese efforts to put pressure on North Korea have “not worked out.”
The Treasury Secretary was quick to point out that these new sanctions do not target China specifically, but rather an organization doing business with North Korea, a sentiment echoed by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster prior to the announcement.
“It’s not a question of pressuring China, it’s a question of working with China to do more about this problem,” he said.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin also made it clear that these new sanctions may not be the only ones to be announced in coming weeks or months, as the United States continues to work toward increasing the pressure on Kim.
“Where we see illicit financing we will stop it,” he said. “The message to everyone at the G20 is this is a serious issue, we’re going to work with everybody and if there is illicit financing going on, we will cut it off from the U.S. financial system.”
Image courtesy of the Defense Department