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Trump Abruptly Scraps New North Korea Sanctions

President Donald Trump looks on during the extended bilateral meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 28, 2019. (Leah Millis/REUTERS)

President Trump announced Friday that he had cancelled new sanctions on North Korea.

Trump said in a tweet that he had “ordered the withdrawal” Friday of “additional large scale sanctions” which would have been added to the existing heavy sanctions on North Korea. Neither the Treasury Department nor the Justice Department announced new sanctions Friday, leading to confusion at Trump’s tweeted claim to the contrary. But the president appeared to be referencing sanctions announced by Treasury officials on Thursday, which targeted two Chinese shipping companies accused of doing business with North Korea in violation of existing sanctions.

“President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement after Trump’s tweet.

The president’s decision comes after he abruptly left his second summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam last month. Trump said at the time that Kim had asked for all U.S. sanctions on his country to be removed in exchange for retiring North Korea’s main nuclear-weapons site, and that he had found the request unacceptable.

Just days after the summit, satellite images emerged indicating that North Korea has begun reconstructing some structures at the Tongchang-ri missile-launch facility. An engine-test stand apparently underwent reconstruction and new walls and a roof were added to a rail-mounted transfer building on the launch pad between February 16 and March 2 of this year.

Trump said after the images emerged that he would be “would be very, very disappointed in Chairman Kim” if the North Korean regime was indeed secretly ramping up its nuclear program.

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