President Barack Obama has signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on North Korea, after its “illicit” nuclear test and satellite launch.
The executive order freezes North Korean government property in America and bans US exports to, or investment in, North Korea.
It also greatly expands powers to blacklist anyone, including non-Americans, dealing with North Korea.
The January 6 nuclear test and February 7 satellite launch were violations of existing UN sanctions.
It also contains separate sanctions passed by Congress and enacted by the president in February.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “The US and the global community will not tolerate North Korea’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile activities, and we will continue to impose costs on North Korea until it comes into compliance with its international obligations.”
Barack Obama said the sanctions “did not target the people of North Korea” but suggested that the country’s leadership only had itself to blame.
How much property North Korea has in the US is unknown, and trade between the two is tiny, but the expanded blacklist power is a significant stepping up of the punitive measures available to Washington.
It is also the first time the US has had a blanket ban on trade, as it once had with Iran and Myanmar.
Amid the heightened tensions, North Kroea sentenced American student Otto Warmbier to 15 years hard labor on March 16 for “severe crimes” against the state.
The US demanded North Korea immediately release Otto Warmbier, 21, who was arrested for trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel while on a visit in January.