UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump on Thursday imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea, signing an executive order that targets trade revenue used by the rogue nation to build its nuclear arsenal.
He announced that his administration was increasing economic pressure at a meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, two days after declaring that the United States stands ready to “totally destroy” North Korea.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un responded to the president’s bellicose UN General Assembly speech by saying Thursday that Trump will “pay dearly” for his remarks, according to The Associated Press. Kim also called Trump “deranged” and “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire.
The president has dubbed Kim “Rocket Man” for his ballistic missile testing.
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump had declared Tuesday from the UN General Assembly rostrum.
In response, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Thursday at the United Nations that the bomb “could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific,” according to a South Korean news media report Thursday night.
Ri said that any actions that “will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un.”
Trump continued to use stern language about Pyongyang when discussing sanctions Thursday, his final day at the General Assembly.
“North Korea’s nuclear program is a grave threat to peace and security in our world, and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said. “The brutal North Korean regime does not respect its own citizens or the sovereignty of other nations.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose countries are neighbors to North Korea, nodded in agreement at several of Trump’s points.
Abe discussed the Kim regime’s missile testing and said a recent explosion was 10 times stronger than past ones, according to a translation. Pyongyang last week launched another missile over Japanese airspace.
Though Trump condemned countries that fund the Kim regime’s “efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind,” he and his aides stressed the sanctions were aimed only at North Korea.
They did not criticize China, a major trading partner to North Korea, and Trump commended China for what he said was its central bank’s halting of trade with Pyongyang.
“This action is directed at everyone,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters. “It is in no way specifically directed at China.”
Mnuchin said other countries and entities can choose to do business with the United States or North Korea, “but not both.”
The new round of sanctions aims to choke off funding provided through shipping and trading networks as well as financial institutions.
Trump and his aides left the door open for further sanctions.
The president is identifying other industries “including textiles, fishing, IT and manufacturing” that it can target.
Trump also held bilateral meetings Thursday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Trump left Thursday afternoon for his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club.
— With the Associated Press