“We will put more sanctions on North Korea,” Trump said while meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, responding to a question from a reporter. The announcement came hours before the president began a series of meetings with the leaders of South Korea and Japan to discuss strategy to confront Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
Sitting down with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said that they would discuss the U.S.-South Korea bilateral trade deal signed in 2011 that Trump has pledged to renegotiate, as well as the North Korea threat.
“We’re making a lot of progress in a lot of different ways,” Trump said. “Stay tuned, stay tuned.”
The latest round of U.N. Security Council sanctions applied to the North this month left room for further penalties. For example, the sanctions put limits on the nation’s oil imports but did not impose a full embargo, as the United States has suggested it supports. The Trump administration has signaled it also wants a full ban on the practice of sending North Korean workers abroad for payments that largely go to the government in Pyongyang.
The Security Council had also applied tough new export penalties in August, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that there are signs those restrictions are having an economic effect.
“We have some indications that there are beginning to appear evidence of fuel shortages,” Tillerson said in a briefing for reporters. “And look, we knew that these sanctions were going to take some time to be felt because we knew the North Koreans, based on information that the Chinese had shared with us and others had shared with us, had basically stockpiled a lot of inventory early in the year when they saw the new administration coming in, in anticipation of things perhaps changing. So I think what we’re seeing is a combined effect of these inventories are now being exhausted, and the supply coming in has been reduced.”
But so far, the sanctions aren’t working.
In his speech at the United Nations on Tuesday, Trump threatened the destruction of the North Korean regime if its leaders continued to threaten the United States and its allies with a nuclear weapons program.
“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 said in his speech.
“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” he added, referring to Kim.