President Trump tweeted on Friday that despite an announcement from his own Treasury Department that “additional large-scale” sanctions would be imposed on the North Korean regime, he would cancel them: “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional sanctions!”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders explained in a statement shortly after the tweet that “President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”
The Treasury Department had just announced new sanctions on two China-based shipping companies it says have aided North Korea in evading existing U.N. sanctions.
These were the first sanctions imposed since President Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi last month, his second meeting with Kim, which ended without a new agreement on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
During a recent background briefing on North Korea, a senior administration official stressed that the maritime industry had to do “more” to stop North Korea’s illicit shipping practices or risk further sanctions-based consequences by the United States.
The official had noted that Thursday’s action, now canceled by the president, was consistent with the administration’s goals of “maintaining pressure as agreed by the international community” on the North Koreans.
Mr. Trump’s first summit with Kim in Singapore last year also did not result in any tangible steps by the North toward denuclearization.
And now, U.S. analysts say North Korea appears to have restored normal operations at a long-range rocket launch site it had partially dismantled last year as part of its steps toward disarmament.
Some experts say North Korea is attempting to convey its displeasure over the breakdown of the high-stakes nuclear summit in Vietnam. The U.S. has maintained that Kim’s demands for sanctions relief were excessive. The latest round of talks between the U.S and North Korea broke down after of U.S. sanctions against his regime in exchange for the North Korean opening of one key nuclear facility, at Yongbyon, to some degree of inspection.
CBS News’ Sara Cook and Olivia Gazis contributed to this report.