North Korea sanctions: Trump announces 'largest-ever' package

Julian Borger in Washington
Donald Trump will announce the sanctions in his CPAC speech. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

Donald Trump announced on Friday a new package of sanctions against North Korea aimed at cutting off the smuggling routes the regime is using to evade a UN embargo and fund its nuclear weapons programme.

“Today I am announcing that we are launching the largest-ever set of new sanctions on the North Korean regime,” Trump according to excerpts of a speech released by the White House ahead his address to a conservative conference.

He said the treasury department “will soon be taking action to further cut off sources of revenue and fuel that North Korea uses to fund its nuclear program and sustain its military”.

That new measures will target 56 vessels, shipping and trading companies that the US say have been helping North Korea evade international sanctions.

The Trump administration scored its greatest diplomatic victory so far in September by persuading the UN security council to impose its strongest sanctions to date on the Pyongyang regime in response to its sixth nuclear test and a series of long range missile tests.

Those sanctions included a cap on North Korean oil imports. However, since then, western intelligence sources have reported a string of ship-to-ship transfers of fuel in international waters by sanctions-busting ships. In December, it was reported that Russian ships were involved in the oil smuggling.

The new US measures to be announced today are not expected to include Russian ships or companies, potentially raising new questions on the administration’s soft approach to Moscow.