With eye on China, Trump may up pressure on North Korea

North Korea warns US it will keep building nuclear arsenal

The Trump administration has blacklisted a small Chinese bank accused of illicit dealings with North Korea, escalating pressure to get Beijing to rein in its wayward ally.

The US Treasury has identified the Bank of Dandong "to be a foreign financial institution of primary money-laundering concern", serving as "a gateway for North Korea to access the US and worldwide financial systems - facilitating millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes", Mnuchin said.

The Trump administration took steps Thursday to penalize a Chinese bank, a Chinese shipping company and two Chinese citizens in an attempt to cut off North Korea's access to the worldwide financial system.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the US has sanctioned two Chinese citizens, a shipping company, and a bank.

President Trump recently said in a tweet that Chinese efforts to counter North Korean aggression haven't worked.

The Treasury Department said it's taking new steps to increase economic pressure on North Korea.

Mnuchin said the Bank of Dandong will no longer be able to access the USA financial system "either directly or indirectly" and called the action "very significant".

The sanctions are the latest in a series of signs that the USA has begun to take action to pressure China after months of fruitless efforts to persuade Beijing to exercise more of its influence with the North.

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"We are in no way targetting China with these actions", Mnuchin said at a White House briefing on Thursday.

-Chinese national Sun Wei, said to have been running a cover company for North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank, which is already subject to US sanctions.

Trump said earlier this month that China's efforts to contain North Korea had been unsuccessful.

Munchin calls it a "very significant" step.

'This is a strong message to Chinese leaders that the Trump administration will act against North Korea's sanctions evasion in China, ' he said.

"This is not directed at China, this is directed at a bank, as well as individuals and entities in China", he told reporters.

OFAC said Dalian Global Unity transports goods and products between North Korea and China.

Another Chinese citizen, Li Hong Ri, is being sanctioned for cooperating with a Beijing-based official who had already been sanctioned for procuring items and conducting financial transactions on North Korea's behalf.

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