The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions against 13 Chinese and North Korean organizations Washington accused of helping evade nuclear restrictions against Pyongyang and supporting the country through trade.
The action, coming one day after President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism, was announced by the U.S. Treasury in a statement on its website.
The new sanctions demonstrate the Trump administration’s focus on hurting trade between China and North Korea, which the administration has said is key to pressuring Pyongyang to back away from its ambition to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States.
“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
The sanctions included blacklisting three Chinese companies, Dandong Kehua Economy & Trade Co., Dandong Xianghe Trading Co., and Dandong Hongda Trade Co., which the Treasury Department said have done more than $750 million in combined trade with North Korea.
The new sanctions also hit several North Korean companies that send workers to countries such as Russia, Poland, Cambodia and China. United States authorities said they are seeking to cut off the money North Korea makes from the export of labor.
Along with targeting sources of weapons technology, the new sanctions marked the first time the United States sought to directly attack North Korea’s everyday consumer trade, said Peter Harrell, a sanctions expert at the Center for a New American Security.
“What you are seeing here is we are sanctioning companies involved in ordinary trade,” Harrell said. “That’s the logical next step of the pressure campaign.”