US Treasury presses Hong Kong, Beijing over North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un
The United States has called on Hong Kong and Beijing to step up measures against North Korea over its nuclear program, according to the Treasury Department.
A Treasury official said Wednesday that the move aims to counter North Korean smuggling and financing as Washington fine-tunes efforts to end Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
“Hong Kong, of course, is an international financial hub and at the same time it has company formation and registration rules that we think need to be stronger,” said Sigal Mandelker, the US Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
“We have also stressed here in Hong Kong the importance of having the appropriate mechanism in place to enforce UN Security Council resolutions and other regulations prohibiting activities that facilitate financial transactions with North Korea.”
Mandelker (pictured below) also said she had urged Beijing officials to expel sanctioned North Koreans in China whom Washington identified as “financial facilitators” for North Korean transactions.
The official made the remarks a day after she had held talks with her counterparts in China, which President Donald Trump has said could do more to help constrain Pyongyang.
North Korea has been under a raft of harsh UN sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear tests as well as multiple rocket and missile launches. Pyongyang has firmly defended its military program as a deterrent against the hostile policies of the US and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.
On November 29, North Korea said it had successfully tested a new missile that put the US mainland within range of its nuclear weapons. It also declared itself a “nuclear state.”
The North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un also used his televised New Year’s Day speech to warn Washington that the entire United States was within range of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and a nuclear button was always on his desk.
In response, Trump said that he had a nuclear button on his desk, saying his nuclear button "is a much bigger & more powerful one than his."