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Trump extends North Korea sanctions another year

President Donald J. Trump (Joyce N. Boghosian/White House)
June 22, 2018

President Donald Trump on Friday extended economic sanctions against North Korea for another year.

The sanctions restrict fuel imports and other trade.

Despite a successful summit in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un earlier this month, Trump has continued his “maximum pressure” campaign against North Korea in order to ensure the total, complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

On Thursday at a Minnesota rally, Trump had said North Korea “stopped everything we wanted them to stop.”

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Trump also said he and Kim had “great chemistry” during the June 12 summit.

Trump in February announced severe sanctions against North Korea – sanctions an administration official called the “largest ever,” and that the President said would be the “heaviest sanctions ever imposed.”

“Hopefully something positive can happen. We have imposed the heaviest sanctions ever imposed,” Trump had said at the time.

The sanctions were intended to ban more than 50 North Korean vessels, shipping companies and other businesses that are seen as sources of income for the country led by dictator Kim Jong Un. The intention was to continue putting absolute pressure on North Korea in order for the country to come to the table and agree to cease its ballistic and nuclear missiles programs.

Kim and President Trump recently met in Singapore for the first time, and they signed a Declaration of Friendship that, among other things, calls for the eventual denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea also agreed to shut down one of its nuclear weapons testing sites.

President Trump also announced that the United States will end its “war games” with South Korea, this after the much-anticipated meeting with Kim – the first time a sitting U.S. President has met with a North Korean leader.

However, joint U.S.-South Korea military drills will resume if North Korea stops its nuclear program negotiations with the United States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said from South Korea.

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Trump “made very clear” the conditions for his actions, Pompeo said, adding that the freeze “will no longer be in effect” if North Korea’s good-faith talks cease, and that Trump was “unambiguous” in communicating this to Kim Jong Un.

The “war games” are held annually with South Korea, and North Korea has often seen the military drills as practice for invasion of its country and war; the drills are a point of contention, and North Korea has lashed out in the past when drills take place. Last year, when North Korea was threatening to bomb Guam, the drills – and the rhetoric between the two nations – ramped up.

Last week, Trump announced that North Korea has begun returning the remains of missing U.S. troops from the Korean War, after Trump and Kim agreed Tuesday to return the remains of U.S. military personnel who were missing in action during the Korean War.

In a statement signed by both Trump and Kim during the historic summit in Singapore, the two countries agreed to the “immediate repatriation” of those fallen service members who are already identified.

Roughly 7,800 Americans remain unaccounted for from the 1950-1953 war. The Korean military conflict technically lasted from 1950 to 1953 but was ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

Of those 7,800 Americans, 5,300 are believed to have been lost in battles in North Korea or prisoner-of-war camps.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said just a few days before the summit that talks about returning the remains of the missing Americans and South Koreans from the war was a top priority of the summit.

The U.S. and North Korea agreed to have follow-up talks between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials.

Past efforts to recover U.S. war remains in North Korea ended abruptly more than a decade ago because of North Korea’s nuclear development and lack of guaranteeing the safety of American recovery teams sent into the country.

Between 1996 and 2005, 30 recovery missions conducted by joint U.S.-North Korea military search teams recovered 229 sets of American remains.

Earlier this year, the leaders of North and South Korea signed an agreement to officially end the Korean War after 65 years, which will be declared later this year, and to work to denuclearize and establish a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in the Demilitarized Zone, in Panmunjom, and signed the “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula.”