President Trump has issued a new executive order implementing further sanctions in response to North Korea’s “provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions,” particularly its recent intercontinental ballistic missile launches and its nuclear test of September 2, 2017. The new sanctions, to be implemented by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), target individuals and entities that engage in trade with North Korea as well as the financial institutions that facilitate such trade. The executive order also authorizes the secretary of the treasury, in consultation with the secretary of state, to impose sanctions on certain persons:

  • Industries: those who operate in the construction, energy, financial services, fishing, information technology, manufacturing, medical, mining, textiles or transportation industries in North Korea;
  • Ports: those who own, control or operate any port in North Korea, including any seaport, airport, or land port of entry; and
  • Imports/Exports: those who have engaged in at least one significant importation from or exportation to North Korea of any goods, services or technology.

These sanctions also target and allow OFAC to block property and interests in property of persons determined to be a North Korean person, including a North Korean person that has engaged in commercial activity that generates revenue for the government of North Korea or the Workers’ Party of Korea.

Further, the new sanctions state that (1) no aircraft in which a foreign person has an interest that has landed at a place in North Korea may land at a place in the United States within 180 days of departure from North Korea, and (2) no vessel in which a foreign person has an interest that has called at a port in North Korea within the previous 180 days, and no vessel in which a foreign person has an interest that has engaged in a ship-to-ship transfer with such a vessel within the previous 180 days, may call at a port in the United States. See new General License 10 for limited exceptions to these shipping prohibitions.

The executive order also provides the authority for OFAC to impose sanctions on any foreign financial institution that knowingly conducts or facilitates any significant transaction on behalf of certain designated North Korean individuals and entities or any significant transaction in connection with trade with North Korea. Under this new authority, the sanctions measures can be either restrictions on correspondent or payable-through accounts or blocking sanctions. The secretary of the treasury will also have the authority to block any funds originating from, destined for or passing through accounts linked to North Korea that come into the United States or possession of a U.S. person. See updated General License 3-A for limited exceptions to these prohibitions.

The White House indicated that these sanctions are specifically targeted towards the shipping and financial industries, noting that North Korea is dependent on these networks to facilitate international trade. Separately, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin stated that “[f]oreign financial institutions are now on notice that, going forward, they can choose to do business with the United States or with North Korea, but not both.” These additional sanctions towards North Korea are effective as of September 21, 2017.