U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday extended existing U.S. sanctions on North Korea for another year, citing the continued “unusual and extraordinary” threat posed by the regime.
In a routine notice sent to Congress, Trump wrote that he is continuing the “national emergency with respect to North Korea” that was first declared on June 26, 2008, by Executive Order 13466.
The executive order, which was further expanded under Trump and previous administrations, calls for sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
“The existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula and the actions and policies of the Government of North Korea continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” Trump wrote in the notice, explaining his reason for extending the national emergency beyond June 26.
In an accompanying letter to Congress, Trump also wrote that the North Korean government’s actions and policies “destabilize the Korean Peninsula and imperil United States Armed Forces, allies, and trading partners in the region.”
In particular he cited the North’s pursuit of nuclear and missile programs, and “other provocative, destabilizing, and repressive” actions and policies of the North Korean government.
By law, the national emergency declaration would be automatically terminated unless the president renews it within 90 days ahead of its anniversary date.
The renewal is routine but comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula amid the North’s increasing military threats against the South.
Pyongyang has justified its actions, including the demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office this week, by accusing Seoul of failing to stop defectors from flying anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets into the North by balloon, as agreed upon in 2018.
Analysts say the communist nation is also increasing leverage in order to extract concessions from the U.S. when the two sides eventually sit down to continue denuclearization negotiations.
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have met three times in the past two years to try to reach a deal on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for concessions.
The negotiations have all but stopped since their second summit in Vietnam in February 2019, when the meeting was cut short due to differences over the scope of North Korea’s denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.