tv Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on North Korea Sanctions CSPAN February 24, 2018 3:51am-4:15am EST
>> hello, everybody, today the treasury department is announcing the largest set of sanctions ever imposed in connection with north korea. this action targets the dis -- deceptive ship practices that have enabled north korea to continue their activities. it targets vessels and individuals across the world who we know are working with north korea's behalf, specifically we're sanctioning 27 entities, 28 vessels, and one individual, all involved in sanctions, evasion schemes. today's actions will significantly hinder north korea's activities that facilitate, illicit fuel transports and shipping through international waters. it's part of the undergoing maximum economic pressure
campaign, to cut off sources of revenue that this regime derives from u.n. and u.s. prohibitive trade to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. we're also issuing a global shipping advisory in conjunction with the coast guard and the state department to put everyone on notice of north korea's illicit maritime tactics and underscoring the significant sanctions risk of engaging in maritime business with north korea. we're releasing new imagery of the deceptive shipping practices used by those who aid and profit from illicit trade with north
korea. these images from december 2017 reveal ship-to-ship transfers of fuel and other products destined for north korea, in an attempt to evade sanctions. they shine a spotlight on the practices employed by the government of north korea to falsify identifying information on ships and conceal illicit cargo. these sanctions, evasion tactics are prohibited by u.n. security council resolutions, and we're fully committed to shutting down those who engage in trade with them. through today's actions we're putting companies and countries across the world on notice, that this administration views compliance with u.s. and u.n. sanctions as a national security imperative. those who trade with north korea do so at their own peril. the united states will leverage our economic strength to enforce president trump's directive that
any company that chooses to help north korea fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs will not be allowed to do business with anyone in the united states. the united states will not sit idly by while he threatens american allies and territories. this administration is committed to full, reversible and permanent denuclearization of the korean peninsula and our actions today against those who continue to fuel this rogue regime amplifies our strong resolve to achieve that end. i'm happy to answer any questions. >> mr. secretary in recent weeks there seems to have been a little bit of a thaw between south korea and north korea during the olympic games, there hasn't been a nuclear test in recent weeks. why these sanctions and why not? it was the beginning of an opening at least between south korea and north korea. >> well, i would say, you know, while we appreciate the fact
that there haven't been tests, that's not exactly a terrific standard of what we're applying. it's very clear that this has been a directive, that the president has issued. going back to his time when he was at the u.n. he made it very clear we were working on these sanctions. as you know, there is a huge process that goes into preparing these sanction packages, and as soon as they were ready, we were prepared to release them today. >> real quick question about -- you mentioned nuclear weapons. do we have -- two questions, do we have any specific example of this being used to enhance their nuclear program, a specific example of where they have breached trade to do that. secondly, is there a linkage between what the president said earlier last week when he said we'll be so far ahead of nuclear, barring excess of anyone else, is he talking about north korea?
>> those are independent issues. our capabilities are obviously far surpassing the rest of the world. i'm not going to make any comments on direct -- on the source of funds, but i can assure you that he's diverting money from the people of the country to support his programs. >> thank you very much. thank you for joining us. >> this targets 27 entities, when you talk about ship-to-ship like the picture behind you there, give us some sort of scope or some context. is that a small portion of the ships involved, and the transfers involved? is it a larger portion, the middle, how impactful actually is going after these 27 entities or these 28 -- >> this is very impactful. this is virtually all the ships they are using at this moment in time. we'll obviously continue to monitor and use all of our resources to monitor activities going forward and we'll do new sanctions as needed going forward. but this is a very, very significant action.
along with, i might just say, advisory that the coast guard has worked on with us that we think will be very impactful. >> out of all the ships, do you expect these ship-to-ship transfers essentially to be eliminated? >> we're going to do everything to stop these ship-to-ship transfers. >> using the words you just spoke, we'll do everything to stop ship-to-ship transfers. clearly we have the intelligence to identify them. this feels like the economic equivalent of a blockade. is that the next step, a military blockade to, in fact, block these ship-to-ship transfers if these sanctions are not effective? >> i think as the president has said before we're not going to announce in advance anything we may do in the future on military actions. we're monitoring. what i would say, again, right now we're using the full power of the united states economically, and working with our allies to cut them off economically. that's priority of the maximum
pressure campaign at the moment. >> is i like an economic blockade? >> i'm not going to confirm that what i will say is we're using all of our sanctions capabilities, and we'll continue to do so to economically cut off illicit activities. >> two questions for you, mr. secretary. is it just purely the number of -- [inaudible] sanctions -- the heaviest -- >> i think we think it's both the largest in number we've ever done against them as well as impactful. i would just say that this brings up the total to over 450 sanctions that we have on north korea. i would say approximately half of those have been done in the last year. so we've had sanctions since 2005 under president trump's leadership we've done half of those in the last year. >> some of those sanctions --
banks have done hundreds of millions of dollars --- -- [inaudible] you're arguing that these are more impactful? >> again, i'm not going to make any specifics. -- >> again, i'm not going to make any specifics. chinese entities. we'll continue to look at them like everyone else. we expect people to follow through on the obligations of the u.n. sanctions and our sanctions programs. reporter: to what extent is russia helping north korea evade sanctions? sec. mnuchin: i'm not going to make any comments specifically on that other than to say, that obviously, russia and china are two countries that have traded with them and we're working actively with both of those. reporter: mr. secretary, what indicators will you use to measure whether or not these sanctions are successful? sec. mnuchin: we have both classified and unclassified indicators that we monitor as to the success, and i will tell you, we believe that the economic sanctions are beginning to have a significant impact on their ability to fund their programs.
reporter: could you let us know about some of the unclassified indicators you use. sec. mnuchin: in this setting, i'm not prepared to go through the classified and unclassified but we'll follow up. reporter: why not blacklist russian ships? sec. mnuchin: again, we're prepared to blacklist russian ships to the extent there are russian ships, so let me be clear. whether they are russian ships or chinese ships, we don't care whose ships they are, if we have intelligence that people are doing things, we'll put sanctions on them and we'll go forward with that. reporter: the second question on timing here, obviously, olympic ceremonies are happening, the president's daughter, adviser just arrived in south korea, is that more than a coincidence or are you trying to send a coordinated message by rolling out these sanctions today? sec. mnuchin: let me say ivanka trump has been briefed on this. she's been part of the team. she had dinner with president moon. they had a private discussion, in advance, about this
occurring, and this has been an interagency process, so i think, as i said earlier, you know, when the vice president went over there, he announced these. they were not ready at the time. if they were ready to be released, we would have done them earlier. there is an extensive process, an enormous amount of work that's been done on an interagency basis to get to where we are today. in the back. yes. how -- sanctions -- in other words, what if it doesn't work -- sec. mnuchin: again, i don't think we're going to make any comments on what our options or aren't in the future. we will continue as we see things that should be sanctioned. i can assure you, we'll continue to roll out new sanctions. so, as you know, since i've been here, this has been an evolving process and although we don't comment on future sanctions, i can assure you we have a large
team, largest ever dedicated, focused on north korea's illicit activities and as there are more actions that need to be sanctioned we'll do that in the future. reporter: mr. secretary, can you go into more detail about the ivanka briefing. does she have the proper security clearance to be able to know what these sanctions were and brief the south korean president? sec. mnuchin: yes, she has the appropriate access to brief president moon. reporter: do you think the greatest effect by this will be military or economic? sec. mnuchin: again, i'm not going to comment on any military issues. i am going to comment that we think the economic activities are significant and the sanctions are working. reporter: but you say there will be military -- sec. mnuchin: i'm not commenting one way or another. you shouldn't interpret that. reporter: regarding north korean sanctions are under and the military chief in north korea. [inaudible]
the closing to ceremony. what is the u.s. position of this terrorist guy entering south korea? do you have anything -- sec. mnuchin: that's for south korea to decide. i'm not making any comments, but again let me just emphasize, our actions are not against the people of north korea. our actions are against the leadership of north korea, and the illicit activities and our commitment to have safety and security on the peninsula. reporter: do you rule out the united states -- sec. mnuchin: no, i cannot rule that out. again, under the u.n. sanctions, with the consent of state flags, there are certain rights that we and other countries have, and i'm not ruling anything out. reporter: consensus, so say a ship doesn't get consent, a ship is suspect, do you rule out
boarding forcibly? sec. mnuchin: i'm not going to make any comments on what the military may or may not do. i would direct you to under the u.n. sanctions, we do have the right with the consent of the state flag, and we will actively, and we expect states that, as we give them information, they de-flag the ships. i think that's also something that's very important. yes, in the back. reporter: these sanctions do you think this will -- to have a change of heart? sec. mnuchin: again, i'm not going to speculate what their change of heart will be or won't be. we believe the sanctions work. there is no question in the case of iran, unified sanctions is what brought iran to the table. we believe the economic might of the united states and our allies, cutting them off, will limit their ability to continue their programs. reporter: what if somebody doesn't have much economic
exposure in the u.s., what can you do to pressure them further? sec. mnuchin: as you're aware we have the ability to do primary sanctions and secondary sanctions, so if these companies are doing business in other places in the world and that's facilitated, we have the ability to cut off the banking system in other parts of the world, and we will look at that very seriously. so -- reporter: are you right now actively considering any further designation of the patriot act, of any banks or financial institutions? sec. mnuchin: again, as matter of policy, i'm not going to give specifics as to what we are considering and what we're not considering. but i assure you, we're reviewing information as it's associated with banks that are doing illicit activities. reporter: last time you were here, there was supposed to be this calculator on the treasury
website, the irs website, to sort of figure it out. there is a battle between the treasury and irs on how to deal with regulations upon the tax codes. has this rollout gone as smoothly -- sec. mnuchin: absolutely. let me just comment, first of all, the calculator is on track. i think it's being released next week. it is being released next week. i think we're going to give the press a demonstration of this. and again, i would just emphasize, i think the rollout of the tax plan, we've had very close coordination between the irs and our team at treasury and the white house and the omv. i think there have been some articles about a memorandum of understanding that treasury has had for 30 years with omb, but again, i assure you, that mulvaney and i are working very closely together, and to the
extent that makes sense to reconsider how things have been done over the last 30 years we're already doing that. reporter: the president said today, that past administrations, talking about the deficit, the debt, have let it go to hell. yet the projections are still close to trillion dollar deficits that will be racked up in the future years. the administration -- sec. mnuchin: let me comment on that because i think that's an important issue. again, as we've said, the debt has gone from $10 trillion to $20 trillion over the last eight years. the president is concerned about that. a big component of that was spent in the middle east on wars as the president has talked about. the president has been very clear that getting more money for the military was a major priority of his. and that's something that was achieved. and as part of that, the democrats required us to raise nonmilitary money. i think given the importance of what the president wanted to do with the military, that was critical that we get it done and we'll be looking at the issue of budget deficits going forward.
reporter: while we're on the subject of taxes, where is the administration on the idea of a 25% rise in the gas tax that the president has suggested in meetings with members of congress? sec. mnuchin: it's something that's being considered. there is no decision on that. i think as some of you noted in my testimony the president is focused on an internet sales tax. this is not a new tax. this is, most states have a sales or use tax, and the president wants to make sure the states are getting the money they deserve and can spend on infrastructure. reporter: do you believe it will be in any way economically harmful to keep it on an inflation adjusted basis? sec. mnuchin: i would just comment, we haven't had an increase in the gas tax in a long time. it's one of the things that we're looking at. it's just one of the issues we haven't made any decisions. reporter: have you made any determinations of whether or not it would be economically
harmful? sec. mnuchin: we've done some analysis on it but it's on a preliminary basis and nothing we're prepared to decide on right now. let me take -- yes. reporter: any update on the monitoring of the china-north korea corridor, that's the lifeline for north korea, which is not monitored by any international organization? sec. mnuchin: i'm not going to comment on specifically what ability we have to monitor things and what ability we don't, but i can assure you that we have a lot of capabilities. reporter: yesterday, prime minister quoted you as suggesting that 70% of the tax cuts go to workers. what's the evidence to suggest that that flow through is there for workers and secondly, on north korea, the sanctions, you briefed on those as well. do you expect to have strong support from australia on that? sec. mnuchin: i do. i have known the prime minister for a long period of time. he's trying to focus on a very
similar economic agenda to what we've done. he's explained to me how he's lowered the corporate tax rate on these small and medium size companies and how he's focused to do it on bigger companies, and he congratulated us on our success and hopefully that will show the success for him there. and we've talked about the statistic in the past. we believe that a major part of the burden of corporate taxes are borne by the workers and then on north korea, we had a very productive discussion on north korea. he's very supportive, and we've encouraged him to work with us on sanctions in other areas, so very productive discussion. i know he's looking forward to seeing the president today. -- that goes to workers that you mentioned, does that fall in wage growth or some other dividend? sec. mnuchin: it's most wage growth. i want to take one or two more questions but i don't want to leave here without emphasizing,
we're working on russian sanctions, i can assure you that's in the process. i will be back here within the next several weeks to talk about that, but again, i just want to emphasize, i think you know under section 241, we did deliver both the unclassified and classified report, and as i've repeatedly said, we're working on sanctions as a follow up to that. why don't we take the last question. reporter: [inaudible] sec. mnuchin: we'll continue look at election meddling. i might just add, we're closely working with the f.b.i. and giving information as it relates to the recent suit, and as appropriate, we'll look at sanctioning individuals from the information they have. and i would also just comment, we already had sanctions against one of the very significant people that were on their list. didn't change anything. thank you, everybody. appreciate your help. reporter: russian sanctions, are they having anything to do with
north korea or just, as steve pointed out, about the election -- sec. mnuchin: again, let me just say quickly, you know, again, as it relates to north korea, we're looking at everybody the same, so the ability that we have under north korea is not differentiated by country. we've done over a hundred sanctions under our ukraine and russia abilities, that we've done since the president has been in office. we'll continue to look at those abilities as well as the authority we've been given under katsa, which i think you know had huge bipartisan support on election meddling. thank you very much. today is the fourth and final day of the annual conservative political action conference. our live coverage begins in the afternoon with a discussion on the second amendment and continues throughout the day with remarks from mick mulvaney and devin nunes.
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