President Obama hits N. Korea in the pockets

The Obama administration widened the scope of U.S. financial penalties against North Korea, escalating pressure on the Pyongyang regime to give up its nuclear weapons. The Treasury Department is freezing the assets of several individuals, companies and organizations allegedly linked to Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The Treasury Department also said that additional U.S. sanctions would be announced in the weeks ahead. President Barack Obama issued an executive order that penalizes certain North Korean activities said to violate U.N. Security Council resolutions. These activities include arms sales, money laundering, the counterfeiting of goods and currency, bulk cash smuggling and drug trafficking. The administration also froze the assets of three other individuals and five other North Korean organizations. This is not new as Secretary of State Clinton had announced this intention to expand sanctions against North Korea when she was in Seoul in July. Clinton said at the time that new U.S. sanctions were meant to warn Pyongyang to resist further military provocations. It was good they waited for former President Jimmy Carter to return from his trip to North Korea last week. There is a world agreement that North Korea is believed to have enough weapons-grade plutonium for at least half a dozen atomic bombs. The threats of five nations China, Russia, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan have not convinced North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for aid and other concessions.

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