DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Now, even as the Trump administration is trying to soothe tensions in the Middle East, as we just heard, they've also unveiled new sanctions against China and Russia over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. These sanctions target 16 individuals and companies the U.S. says are helping North Korea. NPR's Jackie Northam has more.
JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: This new round of sanctions represents a ratcheting up of pressure by the Trump administration on countries and companies doing business with North Korea. And the aim of that is stemming the flow of money going towards Pyongyang's weapons program. The Treasury Department says North Korea generates about a billion dollars a year from coal exports.
The new sanctions target Chinese and Russian entities and individuals trading coal, oil and mineral resources with North Korea. The Treasury Department singled out three Chinese companies, which it says imported almost a half a billion dollars in North Korean coal.
KENT BOYDSTON: It's a signal. It's a message to firms throughout the world that United States is going to target these entities, and you cannot hide behind a cover of being in China or Russia.
NORTHAM: Kent Boydston is a research analyst with the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He says the sanctions also hit those helping North Korean entities gain access to U.S. and international financial systems.
BOYDSTON: It's really forcing firms to decide, are you going to deal with these shady North Korean financial institutions or firms, or do you care more about having access to the U.S. market?
NORTHAM: Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, thinks the sanctions are a significant step forward and part of a strategy by the Trump administration to clamp down on those who continue to work with North Korea. Ruggiero says the move won't be lost on China's leadership.
ANTHONY RUGGIERO: No Chinese banks were targeted, but that's the next level. And if the Trump administration is continuing this robust sanctions campaign, the next level's going to be some kind of action against Chinese banks, which I think the leadership in Beijing wants to avoid.
NORTHAM: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says the U.S. would continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of its nuclear and ballistic missile program. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.
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