US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order allowing Washington to ramp up sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear missile programme.
The move on Thursday came two days after Trump warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in his address at the UN General Assembly that the US, if threatened, would “totally destroy” his country of 26 million people.
Announcing the measure, Trump said the order would allow sanctions against “individuals and companies that finance and facilitate trade” with Pyongyang.
“Our executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind,” he added.
Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea in UN speech
Industries set to be targeted include textiles, fishing, information technology and manufacturing.
Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said Trump’s move seemed “very significant” but stressed that more information about the move was needed.
“At this stage, the White House hasn’t released the executive order, and this is going to be a very complex document with legal and economic ramifications,” he said.
Pyongyang has resisted international pressure, conducting its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3, and launching numerous missiles this year, including two intercontinental ballistic missiles and two other rockets that flew over Japan.
Trump stopped short of going after North Korea’s biggest trading partner, China, and praised its central bank for ordering Chinese banks to stop doing business with North Korea.
He also did not mention Pyongyang’s oil trade. Four sources told Reuters China’s central bank has told banks to strictly implement United Nations sanctions against North Korea.
The United Nations Security Council has unanimously imposed nine rounds of sanctions on North Korea since 2006, the latest earlier in September capping fuel supplies.
‘New EU sanctions’
Separately on Thursday, diplomatic sources told AFP news agency that the European Union had agreed on new sanctions against North Korea, including a ban on investments in the country and on EU exports of oil.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources said that EU members also want to blacklist more North Korean individuals and entities, a move that would freeze their assets in the bloc and ban them from entering its territory.
“It seems, perhaps, that the US and EU measures have been coordinated,” said Al Jazeera’s Bays. “If that [EU sanctions]comes into play as well. it is even more pressure on North Korea, adding to all the existing international sanctions.”
Earlier on Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, sitting with Trump and their respective delegations, said the US president’s warning to Pyongyang on Tuesday “will also help to change North Korea”.
It was Trump’s most direct military threat to attack North Korea and his latest expression of concern about Pyongyang’s repeated launching of ballistic missiles over Japan and underground nuclear tests.
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In response, North Korea’s foreign minister likened Trump to a “barking dog”.
Arriving in New York for the UN meetings on Wednesday, Ri Yong-ho, the North Korean foreign minister, was mobbed with questions from reporters about Trump’s maiden speech at the speech and he replied with a proverb.
“There is a saying that marching goes on even when dogs bark,” he said as he entered his hotel.
“If they are trying to shock us with the sound of a dog’s bark they are clearly having a dog dream.”
On Thursday, South Korea’s Moon said sanctions were needed to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table and force it to give up its nuclear weapons, but Seoul was not seeking North Korea’s collapse.
“All of our endeavors are to prevent war from breaking out and maintain peace,” Moon said in his speech to the UN General Assembly.
He added that Pyongyang’s nuclear issue “needs to be managed stably so that tensions will not become overly intensified and accidental military clashes will not destroy peace.”
Moon said all countries must strictly adhere to UN sanctions on North Korea and impose tougher steps in the event of new provocations by Pyongyang.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies