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U.S. Unveils New North Korea-Related Sanctions

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference on on February 23 in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

The United States has hit North Korea with new sanctions, slapping punitive measures on more than 50 vessels and companies and one individual the U.S. administration says are helping Pyongyang evade existing sanctions related to its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

The new measures were announced on February 23 by the U.S. Treasury Department ahead of President Donald Trump's unveiling of the sanctions during a speech the same day.

"We just imposed today [on North Korea] the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country ever before," Trump told the cheering crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington.

"Hopefully, something positive can happen. We'll see," he added.

The excerpts of the Trump's speech released by the White House prior to the event included further comments about North Korea. But the president deviated from his prepared remarks and addressed the issue only at the end of his 80-minute, wide-ranging talk.

In the text, Trump was quoted as saying the Treasury Department was taking the actions to further cut off sources of fuel and revenue that Pyongyang uses to support its nuclear program and military.

As he spoke to the CPAC, the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control disclosed details of the new measures, which target one individual, 27 companies, and 28 vessels activities related to North Korea nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

The individual was identified as Tsang Yung Yuan, described as a Chinese national located in Taipei, Taiwan. It did not immediately disclose why the person was added to the sanctions list.

The announcement came as South Korea is holding the Winter Olympics, an event that Seoul and Pyongyang have used in an effort to resume talks.

Tensions have increased on the Korean Peninsula in recent months as Pyongyang continues to test its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in defiance of United Nations regulations.

No Russian entities were included in the sanctions list announced February 23.

Trump told Reuters last month Russia was helping Pyongyang evade international sanctions, saying Moscow "is not helping us at all with North Korea."

With reporting by AP and Reuters