The United States took steps Wednesday to further lock North Korea out of the world financial system as it officially labeled the country a "global money laundering concern."
The action would prevent both direct and indirect North Korean financial activities within the U.S. banking system, ensuring that any third-party deals involving significant sums of U.S. dollars or other currencies cannot transit the United States.
The action follows a recent United Nations Security Council resolution that calls on all U.N. members to cut off banking relations with Pyongyang.
"Today's action is a further step toward severing banking relationships with North Korea and we expect all governments and financial authorities to do likewise pursuant to the new U.N. Security Council Resolution," said Adam Szubin, the U.S. Treasury's acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
The move essentially further isolates North Korea, which has defied U.N. Security Council calls to halt its nuclear weapons program and continued tests of ballistic missiles.
In March, the U.N. Security Council imposed the toughest sanctions yet against Pyongyang, including unprecedented inspections of all cargo to and from the notoriously reclusive country which has locked itself away from the rest of the world for the past 60 years.
Last week, the European Union also tightened sanctions on Pyongyang, blocking any trade finance activity and banning certain trade and investment with the country.
The U.S. Treasury's move to label North Korea a key money launderer allows it to take further steps to cut off the country from financial networks by hampering indirect deals that involve North Korean companies and banks.
The move, which requires a 180 day review before final implementation, will prevent banks in other countries handling transactions for North Korean financial institutions from accessing the U.S. system.
"The United States, the U.N. Security Council, and our partners worldwide remain clear-eyed about the significant threat that North Korea poses to the global financial system," Szubin said in a statement.
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