The Treasury Department on Tuesday ratcheted up the pressure on North Korea by putting sanctions on banks and individuals tied to the isolated nation in its effort to cut off financial support for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
The measure targets eight North Korean banks and 26 people "linked to North Korean financial networks," the Treasury said. The individuals — North Korean nationals — represent the country's banks and work in China, Russia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates, the department said.
"This further advances our strategy to fully isolate North Korea in order to achieve our broader objectives of a peaceful and denuclearized Korean peninsula," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "This action is also consistent with UN Security Council Resolutions."
The action comes as the international community has tried to use economic pressure to push the communist dictatorship to end its nuclear ambitions. In two recent unanimous votes, the United Nations Security Council put new sanctions on Pyongyang. The Treasury described one package approved this month as "the strongest sanctions ever imposed on North Korea."
In a news conference with Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, on Tuesday, Trump kept up the heated rhetoric. The president said, "If we have to take" the military option in North Korea, "we will." Trump added that it would prove "devastating" for Pyongyang.
Tuesday's sanctions block the individuals' property or interests within the United States. They follow President Donald Trump's Thursday executive order expanding his authority to target people and institutions that do business with North Korea.
So far, economic measures have not deterred Pyongyang from a string of missile tests and an apparent hydrogen bomb test.
Trump and the North Korean regime have exchanged fiery rhetoric in recent days as tensions escalate.
North Korea's foreign minister on Monday accused Trump of declaring war, saying that gives Pyongyang the right to shoot down U.S. strategic bombers. Ri Yong Ho referred to a Saturday Trump tweet in which he said the North Korean regime "won't be around much longer" if Ri "echoes thoughts" of dictator Kim Jong Un, whom Trump maligned as "Little Rocket Man."