Mnuchin: ‘Sanctions Package’ Coming Against North Korea’s Enablers

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he has begun drafting a “sanctions package” to send to President Donald Trump for “his strong consideration.” It would punish any country, he said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” that conducts business with North Korea amid escalating global tensions.

Mnuchin spoke the same day that North Korea announced that it had conducted its sixth nuclear test in its latest show of aggression after a tense August. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un proudly touted what he claimed to be a hydrogen bomb, noting that it could be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The North Korean government announced in a televised statement Sunday that it had experienced “perfect success in the test of a hydrogen bomb for an ICBM,” insisting that “the creditability of the operation of the nuclear warhead is fully guaranteed.”

After witnessing the latest act of aggression from the rogue nation, the Treasury secretary said "this isn't the time for just talk," warning that the U.S. is "going to strongly consider everything at this point" to deter North Korea's nuclear quest and pressure other countries to cease enabling Pyongyang.

"I did speak with the president, and it's clear that this behavior is completely unacceptable," Mnuchin said. "We have already started with sanctions against North Korea, but I am going to draft a sanctions package to send to the president for his strong consideration that anybody who wants to do trade or business with them would be prevented from doing trade or business with us."

The Treasury secretary continued: "We are going to work with our allies. We will work with China, but people need to cut off North Korea economically. And if countries want to do business with the United States, they will obviously be working with our allies and others to cut off North Korea economically."

Pyongyang's latest act of aggression occurred after an August filled with escalating tensions and increasingly heated rhetoric from both sides. In early August, Trump threatened to meet North Korea "with fire and fury like the world has never seen" if they continued along their nuclear path and threatened the U.S. and its allies.

"The president has made it clear, this isn't the time for just talk. This is time for action, that this type of behavior is not acceptable," Mnuchin said. "And our objective has been and will continue to be to denuclearize the peninsula ... that these types of tests are not being part of the world community."

The president addressed the reports of Pyongyang's hydrogen-bomb detonation in a series of tweets Sunday morning, saying, "North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States ... North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success."

Trump also took a dig at South Korea, pointing out that a strategy of "appeasement" hasn't been working.

"South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!" Trump tweeted.

The president also acknowledged in an early afternoon tweet that he "will be meeting General Kelly, General Mattis and other military leaders at the White House to discuss North Korea" later on in the afternoon.

Mnuchin noted that economic sanctions against China are on the table as part of the United States' multifaceted approach to dealing with the threats North Korea poses, saying that "China has a lot of trade with [North Korea]. There is a lot we can do to cut them off economically, much more than we have done already."

Trump reaffirmed Mnuchin's position, tweeting Sunday afternoon, "The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea."

The Treasury secretary added that Trump also intends to renegotiate trade deals with other countries to reverse U.S. trade deficits, which possibly could include a deal with North Korea's southern neighbor.

"In the case of South Korea, we obviously have provided a lot of military assistance and others in what we are doing to protect them. And the president has made it clear that we want a better economic deal," Mnuchin said. "But there has been no decisions made other than renegotiating that trade agreement that this point."

North Korea's continuing aggression and the United States' response permeated the various Sunday morning talk shows as members of Congress voiced their opinions on the president's strategy.

Although Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on ABC News' "This Week" that "the president speaks in ways I wouldn't speak," he said it "is his prerogative."

"I think the president is right that Kim Jong-Un and other bullies only understand and respect strength," Cruz said of Trump's rhetoric, noting that Pyongyang's latest launch "is a serious escalation in their ability to commit mass acts of murder."

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that "the reality is, [North Korea] is a grave threat to the United States, and it is one we will have to respond to."

"We ought to be aiming for a cessation of these programs in the first instance, and then hope that will lead to a negotiation where we can roll back these programs," he said.

"I think we're going to have to start imposing secondary sanctions — that is, other countries doing business with North Korea," Schiff added. "It underscores the heightened importance to getting China to work with us more aggressively to cut off trade to North Korea."

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Sunday on NBC News' "Meet the Press" that "in the Intel Committee that I serve on, I think it doesn't disclose anything to say that in the last year [North Korea] has probably been the number-one topic month after month — what was happening there, what are we going to do about it — and I hope the neighborhood understands how critical this is."

"I think the president putting everything on the table is not a bad thing right now," he added, saying of Kim, "You've got a leader who is both spoiled and reckless. Spoiled and reckless is not a unique thing to find in the world today, but it is unique with somebody who has control of what may now be hydrogen weapons."

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Stefan Krasowski)

Last Modified: September 3, 2017, 10:44 pm

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