US Treasury chief says Russian Federation sanctions to come within weeks

24 February 2018, 04:57 | Isaac Mcdaniel

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Trump himself is set to discuss the moves in an address to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday morning.

The measures prohibit USA citizens from dealing with more than 50 vessels and companies, and one person, located in countries including North Korea, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

"These sanctions put the world on notice", said the official, who spoke with reporters Friday during a briefing ahead of Trump's announcement.

The measures are set to be announced just as the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, arrives in South Korea.

The entities sanctioned include companies based in China, Singapore and Panama. With Friday's measures, Mnuchin said the USA has gone after "virtually all their ships that they're using at this moment".

"As if the sanctions themselves were not warning enough, there is now this stark warning to the rest of the shipping community that the actively looking to punish those who are engaging with North Korea", said Schanzer, now the senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Earlier in the day, the Trump administration announced a sweeping sanctions package aimed at curbing the communist dictatorship's weapons development.

On December 28, Trump tweeted: "Caught RED HANDED - very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea".

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Mnuchin stressed that the Treasury Department did produce unclassified and classified reports related to the sanctions, as required under the 2017 law. Another administration official said that the US would seek United Nations designations on the entities that were unilaterally sanctioned on Friday.

On top of the designations, the administration, in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard, issued a shipping advisory alerting companies of the sanctions risks associated with the transfer of goods to and from North Korea. The officials declined to say how much of an impact these specific sanctions will have, but Treasury said each of the nine vessels from countries other than North Korea could carry over $5.5 million worth of coal at a time. However, since then, western intelligence sources have reported a string of ship-to-ship transfers of fuel in global waters by sanctions-busting ships.

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Despite Trump putting Russia on notice last month, there are no Russian entities on Friday's list either. Although South Korea is a close USA ally, animosity between Washington and Pyongyang is still running high.

He also thanked "President Trump's strong support for inter-Korean dialogue".

"This is very much a worldwide effort", the official said.

The new package of sanctions is the latest measure to try to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear arms programs.

North Korea is known to falsify and hide information displayed on North Korean vessels, and to conduct ship-to-ship transfers prohibited under a UN Security Council resolution issued in September, the Treasury said.

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