US tightens sanctions on North Korea

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President Donald Trump is expected to address the new penalties Friday at a conservative gathering in Washington.

Japan supports Washington's decision to impose another round of sanctions on North Korea over Pyongyang's ongoing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, Kentaro Sonoura, the adviser of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday. The measures target one individual, 27 entities and 28 vessels, located or registered in several locations: North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and Comoros, the Treasury Department said. "This will significantly hinder the Kim regime's capacity to conduct evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, and erode its abilities to ship goods through worldwide waters", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"We are putting companies and countries across the world on notice that this administration views compliance with USA and United Nations sanctions as a national security imperative".

The sanctioned entities include companies with headquarters in North Korea, as well as ones based out of other countries, including China.

"If the sanctions don't work, we'll have to go phase two", Trump said.

The agencies also alerted those industries of North Korea's deceptive shipping practices.

The UN Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on North Korea in the a year ago in order to deprive the reclusive state of funds for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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It said the move was aimed at shutting down North Korea's illicit maritime smuggling activities to obtain oil and sell coal.

In a possible attempt to reassure Washington, Moon said that South Korea was the "last" country that would be willing to acknowledge North Korea as a nuclear state.

Tighter sanctions plus a more assertive approach at sea could dial up tensions at a time when fragile diplomacy between North and South Korea has gained momentum.

"New US sanctions will alert those who are illegally trading with North Korea and therefore bolster the worldwide community to carry out resolutions from the UN Security Council", the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

The administration billed it as the largest installment of North Korean economic restrictions to date as it intensifies its campaign of "maximum pressure" to get the North to give up its nuclear weapons.

China's Foreign Ministry, in a statement to Reuters, said they did not know anything about the plan, but that in principle China believes United Nations resolutions on North Korea should be fully and thoroughly implemented. "She had dinner with President Moon and had a private discussion in advance about this occurring and this has been an interagency process".

Trump said she would use her presence at the end of the Olympics to emphasize the USA commitment to a "maximum pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized".