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EXCLUSIVE: Trump administration weighing broad sanctions on North Korea - U.S. official

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EXCLUSIVE: Trump administration weighing broad sanctions on North Korea - U.S. official

By Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom

REUTERS

 

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FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks at a rocket warhead tip after a simulated test of atmospheric re-entry of a ballistic missile, at an unidentified location in this undated file photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 15, 2016. KCNA/via Reuters/File Photo

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions aimed at cutting North Korea off from the global financial system as part of a broad review of measures to counter Pyongyang's nuclear and missile threat, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.

 

The sanctions would be part of a multi-pronged approach of increased economic and diplomatic pressure – especially on Chinese banks and firms that do the most business with North Korea – plus beefed-up defences by the United States and its South Korean and Japanese allies, according to the administration official familiar with the deliberations.

 

While the long-standing option of pre-emptive military strikes against North Korea is not off the table – as reflected by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's warning to Pyongyang during his Asia tour last week - the new administration is giving priority for now to less-risky options.

 

The policy recommendations being assembled by President Donald Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, are expected to reach the president's desk within weeks, possibly before a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in early April, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. North Korea is expected to top the agenda at that meeting.

 

It is not clear how quickly Trump will decide on a course of action, which could be delayed by the slow pace at which the administration is filling key national security jobs.

 

The White House declined comment.

 

Trump met McMaster on Saturday to discuss North Korea and said afterward that the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, was "acting very, very badly."

 

The president spoke hours after North Korea boasted of a successful rocket-engine test, which officials and experts think is part of a programme aimed at building an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States.

 

'SECONDARY SANCTIONS'

 

The administration source said U.S. officials, including Tillerson, had privately warned China about broader "secondary sanctions" that would target banks and other companies that do business with North Korea, most of which are Chinese.

 

The move under consideration would mark an escalation of Trump's pressure on China to do more to contain North Korea. It was not clear how Chinese officials responded to those warnings but Beijing has made clear its strong opposition to such moves.

 

The objective would be to tighten the screws in the same way that the widening of sanctions - to encompass foreign firms dealing with Iran - was used to pressure Tehran to open negotiations with the West on its suspected nuclear weapons programme. That effort ultimately led to a 2015 deal to restrict Iran's nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

 

For such measures to have any chance to influence the behaviour of North Korea, which is already under heavy sanctions, Washington must secure full international cooperation - especially from China, which has shown little appetite for putting such a squeeze on its neighbour.

 

Analysts also have questioned whether such sanctions would be as effective on North Korea as they were on a major oil producer such as Iran, given the isolated nation's limited links to the world financial system.

 

North Korea has relied heavily on illicit trade done via small Chinese banks. So, to be applied successfully, the new measures would have to threaten to bar those banks from the international financial system.

 

Also under consideration are expanded efforts to seize assets of Kim and his family outside North Korea, the official said.

 

MILITARY OPTIONS

 

The military dimension of the review includes a strengthened U.S. presence in the region and deployment of advanced missile defences, initially in South Korea and possibly in Japan. The U.S. military has begun to install a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, or THAAD, system in South Korea, despite Chinese opposition.

 

Washington is increasingly concerned, however, that the winner of South Korea's May 9 presidential election might backtrack on the deployment and be less supportive of tougher sanctions.

 

Tillerson warned on Friday that Washington had not ruled out military action if the threat from North Korea becomes unacceptable.

For now, U.S. officials consider pre-emptive strikes too risky, given the danger of igniting a regional war and causing massive casualties in Japan and South Korea and among tens of thousands of U.S. troops based in both allied countries.

 

Another U.S. government source said Trump could also opt to escalate cyber attacks and other covert action aimed at undermining North Korea's leadership.

 

"These options are not done as stand-alones," the first U.S. official said. "It's going to be some form of 'all of the above,' probably excluding military action."

 

Trump is known to have little patience for foreign policy details, but officials say he seems to have heeded a warning from his predecessor, Barack Obama, that North Korea would be the most urgent international issue he would face.

 

In his North Korea briefings, Trump has asked repeatedly how many nuclear warheads and missiles Pyongyang has, at the same time as demanding to know how much South Korea and Japan are paying for their own defence, one U.S. official said.

 

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by John Walcott; Editing by Kieran Murray and Peter Cooney)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-03-21

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Once again President Trump to the rescue for the US.  Obama did nothing to stop North Korea's nuclear expansion.

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12 minutes ago, simple1 said:

Who originally authorised the deployment of the Thaad missile systems to South Korea, you seriously believe it was initiated by Trump? In any case nonsense post by you, Mr Troll - do your research - e.g.

 

http://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/former-us-president-admits-he-ordered-cyber-attacks-on-north-korea-over-its-missile-program/news-story/6da996e754831bd6a19bd16cf30a33d5

 

 

The problem is still there, Mr. Simpleton.  Do your research.

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ID: 5   Posted (edited)

46 minutes ago, Pepe1 said:

The problem is still there, Mr. Simpleton.  Do your research.

Yep. Trump Administration is responding to escalation of threat from North Korea, as did the Obama Administration, so don't make  "false news " claims.

 

t’s still early, of course, and Trump’s approach could very well become more aggressive once his administration finally gets its footing. But when you look at the evidence of what they’ve actually done so far — and not just the rhetoric — it seems Trump is in many ways continuing to approach the North Korea situation along the same lines as his predecessor did.

 

http://www.vox.com/world/2017/3/17/14959174/trump-north-korea-policy-tillerson-military-action-obama

Edited by simple1

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1 hour ago, Pepe1 said:

Once again President Trump to the rescue for the US.  Obama did nothing to stop North Korea's nuclear expansion.

Didn't this, so called, POTUS, tell his followers during his campain that he wanted to talk with North Korea!

Only he, the Donald, understand everything and with his knowledge of doing business, only he can solve all problems!

And if you think that this clown is coming to the rescue of the USA, than please keep supporting him from your nuclear shelter.

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2 hours ago, simple1 said:

Yep. Trump Administration is responding to escalation of threat from North Korea, as did the Obama Administration, so don't make  "false news " claims.

 

t’s still early, of course, and Trump’s approach could very well become more aggressive once his administration finally gets its footing. But when you look at the evidence of what they’ve actually done so far — and not just the rhetoric — it seems Trump is in many ways continuing to approach the North Korea situation along the same lines as his predecessor did.

 

http://www.vox.com/world/2017/3/17/14959174/trump-north-korea-policy-tillerson-military-action-obama

I will huff I will puff I will blow your house down.

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5 hours ago, Pepe1 said:

Once again President Trump to the rescue for the US.  Obama did nothing to stop North Korea's nuclear expansion.

This is the same Trump that praised the Kim as a strong leader during his campaign.  You really have backed the right horse here!

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And apart from Sanctions what can you do about NK. Any military action will result in Chinese reaction. You really think you can throw stones without some coming back at you? Yes you may hurt NK militarily by a preemptive strike but do not think the US will get away with some kind of NBC retaliation. There is no such thing as a clean conflict

 

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11 hours ago, dutchisaan said:

Didn't this, so called, POTUS, tell his followers during his campain that he wanted to talk with North Korea!

Only he, the Donald, understand everything and with his knowledge of doing business, only he can solve all problems!

And if you think that this clown is coming to the rescue of the USA, than please keep supporting him from your nuclear shelter.

"... than please keep supporting him from your nuclear shelter."

 

ROFL.  When all else fails, throw in a some good old fashioned scare-mongering, eh?

 

Hey.  It works on wingnuts!

 

 

 

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