Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

U.S. Sanctions North Korea Banks as Trump Vows to 'Fix the Mess'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

U.S. Sanctions North Korea Banks as Trump Vows to 'Fix the Mess'

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump vowed to "fix the mess" over North Korea's nuclear program but warned any U.S. military attack would be "devastating." The tough talk came as Mr. Trump's administration sought to turn up the economic pressure with new sanctions punishing North Korean banks and their workers.

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. was still hoping for a diplomatic resolution, Mr. Trump echoed the sentiment, declaring that a military strike was "not a preferred option." Still, Mr. Trump said the United States was "totally prepared" to pursue that route if necessary.

"If we take that option, it will be devastating, I can tell you that. Devastating," Mr. Trump said in a Rose Garden news conference. "If we have to take it, we will."

The president appeared eager to push back on the notion that it was he, not North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who's responsible for upping the rhetoric between the countries to alarming levels. And he assigned some fault for the mounting crisis to his predecessors for failing to address the North's nuclear ambitions over many decades.

"It's left me a mess," Mr. Trump said, adding: "I'll fix the mess."

Mr. Trump emphasized that world nations must act quickly to "ensure the regime's complete denuclearization," referring to Mr. Kim's government.

Mr. Trump spoke alongside the visiting Spanish prime minister minutes after his Treasury Department announced new sanctions targeting eight North Korean banks and 26 bank workers living abroad.

The North Korean targets mark the first use of new sanctioning powers that Mr. Trump created in an executive order he signed last week to target North Korea's access to the international banking system. They also came as the United Nations has also recently passed its toughest sanctions package targeting North Korea. …

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