Trump reversing new sanctions on North Korea

Trump reversing new sanctions on North Korea

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday (March 22) that he has reversed his administration's decision to slap new sanctions on North Korea, with his press secretary explaining that he "likes" leader Kim Jong Un and doesn't think they're necessary.

But he added, "I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!" Trump said in a tweet.

Trump's announcement amounted to a startling rebuke of policy action announced by his own government, once again calling attention to the unconventional and undisciplined policy process that has often defined the Trump administration.

In a tweet on Friday, Mr Trump referred to "additional large-scale sanctions" by the US Treasury that had been added to already existing restrictions.

However on Thursday, the US Treasury blacklisted two China-based shipping companies for reportedly violating sanctions against North Korea. The new actions were fulfilled under existing sanctions authority. But in the 24 hours before Trump walked back the sanctions, top administration officials were busy publicly heralding the new designations targeting the Chinese shipping companies.

The unexpected action thwarted his Treasury secretary's plans and contradicted a stern statement from his national security adviser on sanctions evasion.

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Klingner said Trump's move signaled that his "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign on North Korea was not going to get any stronger and recalled an announcement the president made before a first summit with Kim in June previous year when he said he was putting a large list of planned sanctions on hold.

In what had been a move to ratchet up pressure further, the Treasury Department on Thursday had imposed the sanctions on two Chinese-based companies to highlight "the deceptive methods that the North Korean regime uses to circumvent worldwide and U.S. sanctions, as well as the U.S. Government's commitment to implement existing UN Security Council resolutions".

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands before their one-on-one chat during the second U.S.

In a briefing on the sanctions with reporters Thursday, an administration official similarly touted the significance of the sanctions, characterizing the package as "unprecedented" and "comprehensive". He did not provide more details on which sanctions he was referring to, though it is widely reported to be linked to the Treasury's announcement on Thursday. A senior administration official had described them as "maintenance", she said. "Everyone over here is watching Twitter and the news".

It's unclear, however, which sanctions the president was referencing in his tweet, which took Treasury officials by surprise. For now, they are simply in a holding pattern.

The White House had said Thursday's sanctions were evidence the USA was maintaining pressure on North Korea in an effort to coax its leader to give up his nuclear weapons program. "After refusing to consider sanctions relief at Hanoi, Trump volunteers to loosen enforcement in order to preserve the talks", Mount said.

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