Published: Fri, June 30, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

U.S. blacklists small Chinese bank over North Korea dealings, announces new sanctions

U.S. blacklists small Chinese bank over North Korea dealings, announces new sanctions

"This bank has served as a gateway to North Korean access to the USA and worldwide financial systems that has facilitated millions of dollars in transactions for North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the daily White House briefing Thursday afternoon. Among them: severing US financial ties with China's Bank of Dandong, which the administration claims acts as a pipeline to support alleged illicit North Korean financial activity.

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on a Chinese bank, a Chinese company and two Chinese citizens in an effort to crack down on North Korea's financing and development of weapons of mass destruction.

Mnuchin said the US would continue to look at other penalties that can be imposed on North Korea and that the topic will be on the agenda when Trump meets with other leaders of major economic powers at the Group of 20 summit next week in Germany.

The senior White House official who briefed reporters Wednesday on the condition of anonymity said Trump remains "determined to follow through" on the U.S.' efforts to crank up the diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea.

His Treasury Department is branding the Bank of Dandong a "primary money laundering concern", and is proposing to severe the bank from the USA financial system, pending a 60-day review period. A main focus of the coordination has been getting China to fully enforce worldwide sanctions meant to starve North Korea of revenue for its nuclear and missile programs.

'While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out.

The US Treasury said North Korea continues to try to evade worldwide sanctions in pursuit of its weapons program.

"This is very significant because it is the first bank that we put the index" in the framework of the program of sanctions against North Korea, he continued. Anxieties about North Korea's nuclear capabilities have escalated amid recent missile tests.

Top Trump administration officials on Wednesday warned publicly and privately that the nearing an inflection point in its efforts to pressure North Korea into abandoning its bellicose behavior, suggesting that Trump might seek to crank up diplomatic and economic pressure on China - which accounts for almost 90% of North Korea's foreign trade.

On North Korea, Mr Trump "feels like he gave China a chance to make a difference" but has not seen enough results.

OFAC said Dalian Global Unity transports goods and products between North Korea and China.

Anthony Ruggiero, a sanctions expert and former Treasury Department official, described it as a small Chinese bank "sitting at the heart" of trade between North Korea and China. It named the two individuals as Sun Wei and Li Hong Ri.

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