President Donald Trump said on Friday that he would lift sanctions on North Korea, as recently announced by the Treasury Department, a declaration which sent ripples through Washington and took everyone by surprise.
The President’s announcement also raised doubts about the White House’s policy process, The Hill informs.
President Trump wrote in a tweet that “it was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea,” adding that he had ordered them to be withdrawn.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a brief statement that Trump’s decision was a result of his personal relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” she said.
On Thursday, the Treasury Department announced new sanctions on two Chinese companies doing business with North Korea, accusing them of helping the hermit regime circumvent existing ones. According to a source, the President was not referring to those sanctions, but rather a new round of large-scale sanctions that have yet to be made public.
Trump’s public rebuke of efforts by his own Treasury Department was surprising, especially because it is in stark contrast to the stance his national security adviser, John Bolton, has taken on North Korea. Bolton previously argued that sanctions were a significant step toward ensuring North Korea remains isolated over its nuclear ambitions.
“Important actions today from @USTreasury; the maritime industry must do more to stop North Korea’s illicit shipping practices. Everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure they are not involved in North Korea’s sanctions evasion,” Bolton tweeted on Thursday.
Trump’s unexpected statement came only weeks after his second summit with Kim failed and talks on denuclearization broke apart.