The U.S. has announced new sanctions on ten Russian and Chinese firms as well as six individuals that it accuses of aiding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, pilling more pressure on the Kim Jong Un regime just hours after a total of 67,500 South Korean and American troops began 11 days of combat drills.
The secondary sanctions drew a swift rebuke from China, which called on Washington to “immediately correct its mistake” of targeting its firms. Pyongyang had not responded to the secondary sections directly, but threatened “merciless retaliation and unsparing punishment” against the U.S. and South Korea for its parts in the annual drills, which the regime considers a dress rehearsal for invasion.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department “will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system.”
The latest moves come after the U.N. Security Council on Aug. 5 unanimously passed Resolution 2371, which targets a third of North Korea’s $3 billion of foreign earnings — mainly iron, lead, coal and seafood exports — plus revenue streams through its banks and foreign ventures. In a tweet, Trump called it “the single largest economic sanctions package ever on North Korea.”