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China Cuts Off Bank Business With North Korea As Trump Announces New Sanctions

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Now a closer look at the round of sanctions announced today against North Korea. It's part of the Trump administration's efforts to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. As NPR's Jackie Northam reports, Trump says he's getting a bit of help from China.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: President Trump said he signed a new executive order that will give the U.S. Treasury Department the discretion to target individuals, companies or financial institutions that knowingly conduct business with North Korea.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Our new executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea's efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind.

NORTHAM: The executive order will also target North Korea's shipping networks as a way to prevent sanctions evasion. That includes a 180-day ban on ships and aircraft that have visited North Korea from arriving in the U.S. Trump says the order will also curtail trade in textiles, fishing, information technology and manufacturing industries.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: For much too long, North Korea has been allowed to abuse the international financial system to facilitate funding for its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

NORTHAM: Today's announcement got a boost. Trump said that Chinese President Xi Jinping had ordered Chinese banks to stop conducting business with North Korea. China is North Korea's No. 1 trading partner. But Bruce Klingner, a former CIA North Korea analyst now with The Heritage Foundation, doesn't put much stock in Xi's offer.

BRUCE KLINGNER: One is right to be skeptical about how strongly China will fulfill their pledge because we've seen that kind of pledges before and backed off. For example, the Bank of China cut off its engagement with North Korea back in 2005, 2006, but went back to dealing with North Korea.

NORTHAM: Still, Klingner said, this executive order is significant. He says rather than focusing on specific targets, the U.S. will now sanction any individual or entity doing business with North Korea. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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