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On Thursday, in response to Pyongyang’s renegade nuclear program, President Trump signed an executive order announcing new sanctions on North Korea. In that mandate, he ordered new economic threat against any bank or company doing business with North Korea. Trump is demanding that financial institutions decide whether it wants to do business with the United States or North Korea. According to Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, the option to facilitate trade or finance with both countries is over.
The order also allows the Treasury Department to freeze the assets of companies that support North Korea’s textile, fishing, IT and manufacturing industries. In addition, it blocks aircraft and ships that have visited North Korea from stopping in the U.S. for 180 days.
Bruce Klinger, a former CIA analyst on North Korea and an expert at the Heritage Foundation, said North Korea probably already has the ability to place nuclear weapons on medium-range missiles that could threaten its neighbors, and a preliminary ability to reach the continental United States with a missile. Washington-based experts estimate that Pyongyang has 10 to 16 nuclear weapons and could have 20 to 100 by 2020.
After learning of the new Executive Order, Lawrence Ward, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney in international business focusing on U.S. national security law, international trade compliance law and licensing, said:
President Trump’s Executive Order refines the focus of the U.S. economic sanctions against North Korea by specifically targeting foreign banks and companies that have continued to do business with North Korea. These U.S. secondary sanctions coupled with China’s central bank’s announcement that Chinese banks should cease all business with North Korea will serve to further isolate North Korea. If Russia, China and certain nations in the Middle East stop using workers from North Korea, then North Korea will be even further boxed-in.
The U.S. secondary sanctions against Iran proved incredibly effective at forcing Iran to the negotiating table as shown through the recent JCPOA. Iran’s ruling regime, however, was not as isolated from the world as Kim Jong-Un appears to be and so time will tell if Thursday’s announcement by President Trump and China’s central bank will work to force Kim Jong-Un to the negotiating table or embolden him in his approach of the last few weeks.
On Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hurled a series of insults at Trump, calling him a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” while insinuating an alarming new weapons tests. This dramatically escalated the war, which until now has been mere words, raising the international nuclear standoff to a new level. Of course, Trump used his Twitter fingers to reciprocate the gesture. He also responded to North Korea with new sanctions.
The world long ago grew accustomed to the cantankerous and erratic behavior of Kim Jong Un’s family, so this was simply more of the same. However, before now, the United States would not respond “off the cuff” without a calculated strategy. Indeed, Trump has supporters of his “fire and fury” threats to North Korea, however, others believe America will be far better off if the President starts acting less like Kim Jong Un and develops a solid plan for navigating this growing crisis.
Although both nation’s leaders are threatening the other with nuclear weapons and annihilation, these types of weapons in the hands of a monstrous and ruthless regime like North Korea pose a far greater threat to the world. These weapons could be used to blackmail other countries at best and extract revenge during a time of regime collapse at worst.
While the executive order could affect businesses throughout the world, Trump emphasized that its target is North Korea. He believes if all nations join together to isolate the Kim regime, the hostile behavior that has become the country’s norm will cease.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Lawrence Ward: Partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney
NPR: Trump Administration Orders New Sanctions On North Korea
Dallas News: Kim calls Trump a ‘mentally deranged dotard,’ hints at weapons test
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