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Pentagon Refuses to Confirm Plans for North Korea Ship Searches

© AP PhotoThis is an aerial view of the five-sided Pentagon building, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, in Arlington, Va., in 1975
This is an aerial view of the five-sided Pentagon building, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, in Arlington, Va., in 1975 - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Defense Department refused on Friday to confirm reported plans to stop and search ships in East Asia that appear to violate North Korea sanctions.

US media cited unnamed officials as saying earlier in the day that the United States was talking to its allies in the region about sending the Coast Guard to stop fuel smuggling, in an effort to make Pyongyang abandon its nuclear ambitions.

"The Department of Defense remains committed to supporting the maximum pressure campaign… but we will not discuss specific tactics, techniques, procedures, or future actions," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told Sputnik.

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The United States has imposed what President Donald Trump described as the "largest-ever" sanctions package on North Korea, measures that targeted shipments of petroleum and coal. They concern one individual, 28 ships and 27 maritime transport companies, including 16 North Korean shipping firms.

The Treasury Department also released a global shipping advisory with information about North Korea's deceptive shipping practices and warned about potential sanctions against those who enable the shipment of goods to or from North Korea.

Meanwhile, the office of the US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that Washington has submitted proposals to the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Committee to stop North Korea’s illegal maritime smuggling activities to obtain oil and coal.

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"The US mission to the United Nations submitted today a list of designation proposals to the UN Security Council’s 1718 North Korea Sanctions Committee aimed at shutting down North Korea’s illicit maritime smuggling activities to obtain oil and sell coal," the release said on Friday.

Also, Trump said in a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that if the new sanctions would not work as planned, the United States would proceed to "phase two." "…phase two may be a very rough thing, may be very, very unfortunate for the world," Trump said.

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