- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2018

President Trump is announcing the toughest U.S. sanctions ever on North Korea Friday.

“We are launching the largest-ever set of new sanctions on the North Korean regime,” Mr. Trump said in remarks prepared for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

He said the Treasury Department will take action to “further cut off sources of revenue and fuel that the regime uses to fund its nuclear program and sustain its military by targeting 56 vessels, shipping companies, and trade businesses that are assisting North Korea in evading sanctions.”

The measures target North Korea moves to evade U.N. sanctions, further squeezing the rouge regimes by cutting off illicit access to coal, fuel and other necessities smuggled in

The new sanctions hit 56 designated entities: 27 shipping and trade companies, 28 vessels and one individual.

The companies and vessels are from throughout the world, including North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshal Islands, Tanzania and Panama.

It is part of what the president’s National Security Council has called a “maximum pressure campaign” to politically and economically isolate North Korea until it agrees to permanently end its nuclear weapon and missile programs.

North Korea has managed to skirt sanctions, especially to get coal and fuel, through ship-to-ship transfers in international waters. The vessels involved often disguise their North Korean origin by painting over the vessel name and disconnecting transponders, according to the administration.

“We are constantly on the lookout for illicit activity and we will come down very hard when we see it,” said a senior administrant official who briefed reporters.

The official also stressed that the new sanctions are being imposed with cooperation from around the globe, and significant help from South Korea and Japan.

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

Earlier this week, Japan’s military reported spotting a North Korean-flagged tanker ship rendezvous in the South China Sea with an unidentified ship that had Chinese markings on it, possibly engaged in illegal fuel smuggling.

China, which has long been the chief sponsor of North Korea, said it would investigate.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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