Trump warns of military action with North Korea if sanctions don't work

Ivanka Trump has since relayed a personal message from her father to South Korean President Moon Jae-in about today's North Korea-related sanctions announcement at a small meeting at the Blue House, according to a statement from a senior administration official.

Moon met Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's nominal head of state, a day after the opening ceremony and urged North Korea to do more to engage in a dialogue with the United States.

Announced by Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) the sanctioned ships are registered or flagged in China, Comoros, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Panama, Singapore, Taiwan, and Tanzania - as well as North Korea.

President Trump announced a new round of shipping sanctions against North Korea to stop oil and other prohibited products from reaching the country. "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".

"Frankly, hopefully something positive can happen.

So we'll see", the US President said responding to a question on North Korea.

Some observers in South Korea suspect that North Korea's cash flow is drying up, so much so that the North could be effectively broke by October.

The mission did not provide details but said the action coincided with one taken by the US Treasury Department, which is expected to target "56 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses", according to the White House.

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Increasingly, reports from the U.S., ROK, and Japan have also revealed ship-to-ship transfers involving North Korean vessels occurring at sea. The official wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the sanctions before Trump's remarks.

The latest designations are primarily meant to crack down on North Korea's evasion of wider-ranging sanctions adopted by the United Nations Security Council and the United States that are more economically significant.

Kim said he wants to boost the "warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue" with South Korea, which hosts 28,500 U.S. troops, after a high-level delegation, including his sister, returned from the Olympics.

A 2018 US intelligence community assessment said that North Korea's commitment to having nuclear weapons, which it describes as "the basis for its survival", suggests that Pyongyang "does not intend to negotiate them away".

During a dinner with President Moon Thursday, Ivanka stressed the U.S.'s commitment "to our maximum pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized", echoing previous messaging from Vice President Mike Pence.

The North Korean regime is facing unprecedented levels of pressure.

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

  • Megan Austin