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26 Sep, 2017 17:36

US sanctions 8 North Korean banks, 26 individuals

US sanctions 8 North Korean banks, 26 individuals

The Trump administration has announced sanctions against eight North Korean banks and 26 individuals, who the US says act as the banks’ representatives in various countries, including China, Russia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.

“As a result of today’s action, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of US persons or within the US must be blocked,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement Tuesday.

“This further advances our strategy to fully isolate North Korea in order to achieve our broader objectives of a peaceful and denuclearized Korean peninsula,” he added.

19 of the North Korean nationals targeted by the sanctions work in China, while three represent various North Korean banks in Russia, according to the Treasury.

The sanctions follow US President Donald Trump’s executive order, signed last week, targeting North Korea’s access to the international banking system.

The UN Security Council had already passed a series of tough economic sanctions against Pyongyang following its repeated testing of ballistic missiles and, reportedly, also of a hydrogen bomb.

The UN sanctions targeted shipments of oil and other fuel used in missile testing as well as government assets and leaders.

The most recent UN resolution also banned all textile exports from the North and prohibited any country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers – two key sources of hard currency for the country.

However, having approved the sanctions, two permanent members of the UNSC – Russia and China – insisted on the US scaling down its belligerent rhetoric toward the North and to pursue negotiations.

“This resolution also provides for political measures that must also be carried out. That is why, we called upon our American and other partners to carry out political and diplomatic decisions, which are stipulated in the resolution,” Russian ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said following the adoption of the UN’s latest measures earlier in September.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov condemned both the reckless tests of Pyongyang and aggressive rhetoric of the US, urging all parties to stick to a diplomatic approach to resolve the Korean Peninsula crisis.

“We have to calm down the hotheads and understand that we need pauses, we need contacts,” Lavrov said, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The US and North Korea have exchanged a series of threats, with Washington and Pyongyang vowing to destroy each other.

Last week, Pyongyang threatened to launch a nuclear strike against the US if it attacks the North, after US President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it attacks the US or its allies.

READ MORE: ‘US declared war first’: N. Korea says it has right to shoot down strategic bombers

This week, Pyongyang said the US has declared war on the North, and “will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”

The threat came after Trump tweeted that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “won’t be around much longer.” The White House later denied that the US had declared war on North Korea.