United States sanctions North Koreans in atomic tit for tat | News | DW | 26.09.2017
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United States sanctions North Koreans in atomic tit for tat

The US has sanctioned 26 North Koreans and eight North Korean banks in retaliation for continued nuclear threats. The top US military officer has said he has not detected any shifts in Pyongyang's military posturing.

On Tuesday, the United States sanctioned eight North Korean banks and several people tied to the country's financial networks abroad as part of ongoing efforts to isolate the regime for its nuclear and missile programs. The sanctions hit 26 people living in China, Russia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates who act as representatives of North Korea's banks.

"This further advances our strategy to fully isolate North Korea in order to achieve our broader objectives of a peaceful and denuclearized Korean Peninsula," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday. "This action is also consistent with UN Security Council Resolutions."

The sanctions freeze any assets that the people and entities might have in the United States. On Monday, the United States announced a revised travel ban targeting citizens of North Korea, as well as those of many majority Muslim nations.

'Charged political environment'

On Tuesday the US's top military officer told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had not detected any shifts in North Korea's military posture — which Pentagon officials consider a good thing. Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford's remarks come amid escalating rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un, who has called his US counterpart "deranged."

"We haven't seen military activity that would be reflective of the charged political environment that we're seeing," Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee on Tuesday.

The environment has only grown more charged, with Trump tweeting that North Korea's leadership "won't be around much longer."

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who has likened Trump to a barking dog, argued that the tweet amounts to a declaration of war and gives his nation the right to shoot down US military aircraft — such as the strategic bombers that the United States flew close to the border between the two Koreas over the weekend.

On Monday, however, White House officials said Trump did not seek to overthrow North Korea's government and called the foreign minister's assertion that Trump's comment amounts to a declaration of war absurd. During a visit to India on Tuesday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US was continuing to "maintain the diplomatically led efforts in the United Nations."

mkg/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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