Trump Administration Implements ‘Maximum Pressure Campaign’ On North Korea, Targets Specific Officials

In addition to the United Nations recently passing a new wave of sanctions against North Korea, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin looked to increase what is being dubbed the “maximum pressure campaign” when he announced specifically targeted sanctions.

The new sanctions specifically target Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol, preventing them from obtaining U.S. property or conducting transactions with any U.S. citizens.

According to reports, Jong-sik was a rocket scientist and Ri Pyong-chol was a former general in the air force.

Per Associated Press:

The sanctions against Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol block them from any property or interests in property within U.S. jurisdiction, and prohibit them from transactions with American citizens. Treasury said the men are senior officials in North Korea’s Munitions Industry Department.

Fox Business reports the new initiative is still focused on “[achieving] a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula.”

Here’s more:

Baik Tae-hyun, spokesman of South Korea’s Unification Ministry, expressed hope Wednesday that the continuing campaign of sanctions and pressure will eventually force North Korea into “making the right decision” and engaging in dialogue over its nuclear program.

Baik noted it was the seventh time the U.S. Treasury has imposed unilateral sanctions against the North since the start of President Donald Trump’s administration. Baik also pointed out that the two North Koreans had already been under U.N. Security Council sanctions.

BBC adds:

The new US sanctions will block any transactions by the two men carried out in the US, essentially freezing any American assets they may have.

Both men are regularly photographed alongside North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at missile launches.


They were both among 16 North Koreans placed under UN sanctions on Friday.

The UN sanctions mainly targeted North Korea’s energy production, specifically the trading of crude oil:

The UN sanctions saw:

  • deliveries of petrol products capped at 500,000 barrels a year, and crude oil at four million barrels a year
  • all North Korean nationals working abroad made to return home within 24 months, restricting a vital source of foreign currency
  • a ban on exports of North Korean goods, such as machinery and electrical equipment

Reuters reports these newly passed energy sanctions were considered by their Foreign Ministry as “an act of war”:

In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, North Korea’s foreign ministry said the United States was terrified by its nuclear force and was getting “more and more frenzied in the moves to impose the harshest-ever sanctions and pressure on our country”.


“We define this ‘sanctions resolution’ rigged up by the U.S. and its followers as a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our Republic, as an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and the region and categorically reject the ‘resolution’,” it said.

“There is no more fatal blunder than the miscalculation that the U.S. and its followers could check by already worn-out ‘sanctions’ the victorious advance of our people who have brilliantly accomplished the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force”, the ministry said.

And per CNN Politics:

The resolution cuts exports of gasoline, diesel and other refined oil products by a total of 89%. It also bans the export of industrial equipment, machinery, transportation vehicles and industrial metals to North Korea, and requires countries currently hosting North Korean migrant workers to repatriate them within 24 months.

The new UN resolution also prohibits countries from smuggling North Korean coal and other prohibited commodities by sea and authorizes member states to inspect, seize and impound any vessels in their territorial waters found to be transporting prohibited items.

Here’s more from KCNA Watch:

The recent “sanctions resolution” of the UN Security Council, manipulated by the U.S., is an illegal document of no legitimacy, says [a North Korean newspaper] Rodong Sinmun  Wednesday in a commentary.

It is quite just that the DPRK branded and flatly rejected the “sanctions resolution” as a wanton violation of its sovereignty and a war act of harassing peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and the region, the commentary notes, and goes on.

The report adds:

Its pursuance of the policy for stifling the DPRK will only plunge the U.S. into the pitfall dug by itself.

It is clear that the U.S. recourse to force would plunge its mainland in the nuclear holocaust and accelerate its ruin in the planet.

The south Korean puppet forces and the Japanese reactionaries have to bear in mind that their active moves to stifle the DPRK by taking the advantage of the U.S. would prompt the merciless retaliatory blow from the DPRK.

South Korea however has a different perception of the sanctions.

Per Business Insider, the southern neighbor to North Korea believes the sanctions could be enough to motivate the rogue regime to come to the discussion table:

South Korea predicted on Tuesday that North Korea would look to open negotiations with the United States next year in an optimistic outlook for 2018, even as Seoul set up a specialized military team to confront nuclear threats from the North.


“North Korea will seek negotiation with United States, while continuing to pursue its effort to be recognized as a de facto nuclear-possessing country,” South Korea’s Unification Ministry said in a report, without offering any reasons for its conclusion.