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Damn! Donald Trump Calls For “The Death Penalty” Against Drug Dealers [VIDEO}
The US military appeared to be in position to carry out any attack order this morning with a Navy destroyer – armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles – underway in the eastern Mediterranean
Donald Trump today used Twitter to warn that a missile attack on Syria is imminent – hours after the Kremlin vowed to shoot down any rockets fired at the Assad regime in retaliation for last week's gas atrocity
The president declared Wednesday that the U.S.-Russia relationship has never been worse – not even during the Cold War
The U.S. has maintained its threat of rocket attacks in response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's sickening chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma on Saturday
Donald Trump flexed his military muscle Tuesday by tweeting an Oval Office image of 19 of his most senior military commanders. The group is pictured above left to right, Army General Curtis Scaparrotti (1), Army General Mark Milley (2), Marine Corps General Robert Neller (3), U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft (4), Navy Admiral Kurt W. Tidd (5), Army General Raymond A Thomas (6), Marine Corps General Thomas D. Waldhauser (7), Air Force General Paul Selva (8), Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford (9), Defense Secretary James Mattis (10), President Donald Trump (11), Vice President Mike Pence (12), Navy Admiral Michael Rodgers (13), Navy Admiral John Richardson (14), Army General Joseph Votel (15), Air Force General David Goldfein (16), Air Force General John E Hyten (17), Air Force General Joseph L. Lengyel (18), Air Force General Lori Robinson (19), Patrick M. Shanahan (20), Navy Admiral Harry Harris (21), Air Force General Darren W McDew (22), U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Karl Schultz (23)
The Syrian government and its ally Russia have denied involvement in any such attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin is pictured on Tuesday with the director of the Kurchatov nuclear and scientific research institute Mikhail Kovalchuk in Moscow
The Russian military claimed Wednesday that samples taken from the site of the chemical attack in Douma did not contain any poisonous substances.
Russian ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said the attack was a 'staged event' faked by provocateurs working with the White Helmets, a rescue and aid first-responder group whose work was chronicled in an Oscar-winning documentary film.
Separately, Trump suggested Wednesday that Moscow doesn't want to be wrapped up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, which has been scouring Washington and New York for evidence that the president's 2016 campaign colluded with the Kremlin to help him win.
'Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama,' Trump wrote, adding that there is 'No Collusion, so they go crazy!'
His threats came hours after Moscow's ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, said any U.S. missiles fired at Syria would be shot down by Russia and the launch sites targeted. In response to Trump's tweet, Russia's foreign ministry said 'smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not legal government.'
The Russian foreign ministry also claimed U.S. missiles would destroy 'all evidence' of a suspected chemical weapons attack.
Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova added: 'Or is it the original idea to use the smart missiles to sweep the traces of the provocation under the rug?' so inspectors would have nothing to inspect.
Both the Syrian government and Russia deny the attack ever took place. The top adviser to Iran's supreme leader said on Wednesday that Tehran would support Damascus against any foreign aggression.
The Syrian air defence system is understood to have been heavily damaged but Russia has a formidable S-400 system (pictured), which has been in place in Syria for more than a year
Russia's government claims the 'White Helmets' first-responder group faked the chemical weapons attack; one of their volunteers is pictured here yelling toward ambulances during a search for survivors of an explosion in the Syrian city of Idleb on Tuesda
The White Helmets' achievements were chronicled in a documentary film that won an Oscar in 2017
Syria's foreign ministry claimed Wednesday that Trump's government is using 'lies and fabrication' as an excuse to launch an attack.
According to SANA, the state news agency, a ministry official said: 'We are not surprised by such a thoughtless escalation by a regime like the United States regime, which sponsored terrorism in Syria and still does.'
Trump's apparent decision to telegraph his military moves flies in the face of a pledge he made last year at Fort Myer, near Washington, D.C.
'America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will,' he said August 21.
That mirrored complaints he tweeted more than five years ago when President Barack Obama was openly contemplating military action in Syria: 'For all of those fools that want to attack Syria, the U.S.has lost the vital element of surprise-so stupid-could be a disaster!'
'In war, the elememt [sic] of surprise is sooooo important,' Trump added then. 'What the hell is Obama doing.'
Defense Secretary James Mattis, too, has expressed a strong preference for surprise attacks over advance warnings, writing in the 2018 National Defense Strategy document that America's military should 'be strategically predictable, but operationally unpredictable.'
Wednesday morning saw a dramatic ratcheting of tensions in the Middle East where Russian forces are propping up dictator Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria and American forces are backing some of his opponents.
Britain, France and the U.S. continued to discuss possible strikes to punish Assad for the chemical attack on Saturday, in which 43 were killed and others left gasping for air and foaming at the mouth.
The U.S. military appeared to be in position to carry out any attack order Wednesday morning with a Navy destroyer – armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles – en route in the eastern Mediterranean.
In strike range: The USS Donald Cook, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer is now close to Syrian waters, and in missile range of Bashar Assad's regime
Amid rising tensions, Moscow's United Nations envoy Vasily Nebenzia had earlier pleaded with America not to strike and warned the U.S. it will 'bear responsibility' for any 'illegal military adventure' it carries out.Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged restraint this morning, saying countries should avoid taking action that could further destabilize the war-torn country.
On Wednesday the pan-European air traffic control agency Eurocontrol warned aircraft to be careful when flying close to Syria. It said that air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles could be used within the next three days and there was a possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment.
'Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR area,' it said, referring to the designated airspace.
Aviation regulators in countries including the US, UK, France and Germany have previously issued warnings against airlines entering Syrian airspace leading most carriers to avoid the area.
The only commercial flights above Syria as of 9:15 p.m. Tuesday were being flown by Syrian Air and Lebanon's Middle East Airlines, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.
Up to 500 people were poisoned in the Syrian gas outrage that killed 43 people including children, the World Health Organisation has revealed.
WHO demanded 'immediate' access to the victims in rebel-held Douma as it revealed the total number of people who reported to hospital showing 'signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals'.
The atrocity, blamed on Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad's forces, has sparked a global outcry with the US and its allies considering taking military action in response.
While the WHO statement did not confirm outright that a chemical weapons attack had taken place, it said more than 70 people sheltering in basements have died with 43 of those deaths related to symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals.
'We should all be outraged at these horrific reports and images from Douma' where Saturday's attack took place, said Peter Salama, the UN agency's chief of emergency response.
'WHO demands immediate unhindered access to the area to provide care to those affected, to assess the health impacts, and to deliver a comprehensive public health response,' he added.
Citing information previously released by local health organizations, WHO said that 'an estimated 500 patients presented to health facilities exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals'.
Trump dramatically FIRES Rex Tillerson on Twitter without telling him personally - leaving secretary of state baffled at sudden replacement by CIA boss Mike Pompeo
President Donald Trump officially proposed imposing the death penalty for certain drug dealers on Monday in New Hampshire, arguing that the federal government is "wasting our time" if it isn't willing to put some traffickers to death.
"The best way to beat the drug crisis is to keep people from getting hooked in the first place," the President said. "This has been something I have been strongly in favor of -- spending a lot of money on great commercials showing how bad it is."
Trump said he would direct people to make the commercials depict "pretty unsavory situations."
That sort of strategy advocates targeting kids and young adults with anti-drug messaging, evocative of the "Just Say No" ad campaign of the 1980s and early 1990s.
What are your Thoughts?
Washington in shock after Trump ACCEPTS stunning invitation to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un
This is on me: Trump used twitter to terminate the career of Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil boss who had been secretary of state for 15 months. An official revealed the president did not speak to Tillerson
You're fired: Rex Tillerson was abruptly fired by Donald Trump on Tuesday morning in a single tweet
Replacement: Mike Pompeo, who had been CIA director, will now lead the State Department and Gina Haspel, a career CIA officer who was its deputy director will become the first woman to lead it
Family: Rex Tillerson had stepped down as CEO of Exxon Mobil when he was offered the job by Trump. His wife Renda St. Clair persuaded him to take it saying: 'I told you God's not through with you.'
'We were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it's going to go very well.'
Trump made no mention of the most notorious tussle between him and Tillerson, when the secretary of state was reported to have called the president a 'f***ing moron' then refused to deny it.
The State Department said Tillerson only learned of his termination when he read Trump's tweet on Tuesday morning.
Two senior department officials said Tillerson received a call from John Kelly, Trump's chief of staff, on Friday, but was only told that there might be a presidential tweet that would concern him.
Kelly didn't tell Tillerson what the tweet might say or when it might actually publish, according to the official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.
Tillerson had told reporters on his plane he had cut short his trip by one night because he was exhausted after working most of the night two nights in a row and getting sick in Ethiopia.
There were no obvious signs from his behavior or his aides on the plane that his departure was imminent.
'I felt like, look, I just need to get back,' Tillerson said.
Instead he was fired and left to spend time with his wife, Renda St. Clair, who had told him to take the job when he was reluctant to himself.
He had revealed last year how when Trump offered him the role 'I was going to the ranch to be with my grandkids.'
Instead his wife told him: 'I told you God's not through with you.'
But by last week Trump was through with Tillerson instead.
One senior White House official said that when Trump made the dramatic and sudden decision last Friday to meet with Kim Jong Un - a decision made while Tillerson was in Africa - an aide asked if Tillerson should weigh in on the matter.
Trump said there was no reason to consult him because no matter what the group decided, Tillerson would be against it, the official said.
On the White House lawn Trump gushed that his future secretary Mike Pompeo has 'tremendous energy, tremendous intellect, we're always on the same wavelength. The relationship has been very good.'
You're fired too: Steve Goldstein, under secretary of state for public affairs, revealed Tillerson had been blindsided by his firing - and was fired himself within hours
The president had tweeted earlier that Pompeo 'will do a fantastic job!'
'Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!'
Haspel was the CIA's deputy director, a career officer who was a longtime clandestine officer.
She was involved in running a black site during the notorious CIA detention program which saw prisoners waterboarded, and could face a highly rocky confirmation hearing in front of the Senate.
In a statement, Trump said Pompeo 'graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the U.S. Army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.'
He called Haspel's move to the CIA's reins 'a historic milestone.'
Trump also had words of praise for Tillerson: 'A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well,' he said.
The president, however, had clashed with Tillerson over and over again in the past year, seeing him as a relic of the Republican establishment at a time when the nation needed more unconventional thinking.
The Washington Post reported that Tillerson was ousted on Friday, meaning that the White House known best for leaking information kept it a secret all weekend.
The outgoing diplomat's last act in office was a shot across Vladimir Putin's bow, saying Monday that the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in the UK 'clearly came from Russia' – and vowing to respond – hours after the White House refused to blame the Kremlin.
In a strongly worded statement, he slammed Russia as an 'irresponsible force of instability in the world' and gave the British government his backing after Prime Minister Theresa May pointed her own finger toward Moscow.
'We have full confidence in the UK's investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible for the nerve agent attack that took place in Salisbury last week,' Tillerson said Monday.
Victim: Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a pizza restaurant in Salisbury, in south-west England and Rex Tillerson publicly blamed Vladimir Putin's Russia for the attack on Monday, something the White House had pointedly not done
Key figure: Trump repeatedly crossed swords with Rex Tillerson, including a public episode in October where the president chided him on Twitter for 'wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man' – a reference to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un - which Trump is now going to do face-to-face
Final meeting: Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari was the last world leader to receive Tillerson as he wrapped up a swing through Africa
Goodbye: Rex Tillerson was last seen on Monday boarding his plane home to the United States after a tour of Africa which concluded in Abuja, Nigeria, after taking in countries including Ethiopia and Kenya
Downhill from here: Rex Tillerson was sworn in by Mike Pence in the Oval Office on February 1 2017, with his wife Renda St. Clair holding the Bible. She had told him to take the job over his own reluctance
'There is never a justification for this type of attack, the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation, and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior.
'Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.'
He added that those responsible 'must face appropriately serious consequences.'
Trump seemed to back him up on Tuesday, saying that he would be speaking with May later in the day.
'It sounds to me like it would be Russia,' he said, 'based on all of the evidence that they have.'
Tillerson made the remarks during his trip to Africa just hours after the the White House broke a week-long silence to condemn the chemical attack, but declined to mention Moscow.'
Trump had repeatedly crossed swords with the former Exxon Mobil executive, including a public episode in October where the president chided him on Twitter for 'wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man' – a reference to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
Foreign policy veterans said at the time that they couldn't recall an instance where a sitting president had undermined his secretary of state in such a humiliating fashion.
But five months later the president himself accepted Kim's invitation for a face-to-face meeting over the hermit kingdom's nuclear missile program.
Tillerson raised eyebrows in Washington last year with reports that he had called Trump a 'moron' following a national security meeting in July about America's nuclear posture.
He never directly denied making the caustic remark, leaving that to a State Department spokeswoman. Trump said the same day that he had 'total confidence in Rex.'
Later that month, newly installed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis begged Tillerson to stay on.
The following month, after Trump angered Americans on both sides of the aisle with tone-deaf comments about the role of neo-Nazis in a Virginia race riot, a furious Tillerson declined to defend him.
'The president speaks for himself,' Tillerson said at the time during a 'Fox News Sunday' interview.
Even then, the White House outwardly professed comfort with Tillerson and confidence in his abilities.
Haspel will need to face a Senate confirmation hearing.
Pompeo will not – at least not right away – because the Senate confirmed him as the CIA director just three days into the Trump administration.
A different committee will ultimately have to grill him, however.
Trump said that his incoming secretary of state 'has earned the praise of members in both parties by strengthening our intelligence gathering, modernizing our defensive and offensive capabilities, and building close ties with our friends and allies in the international intelligence community.'
'I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture,' he added.
'He will continue our program of restoring America's standing in the world, strengthening our alliances, confronting our adversaries, and seeking the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.'
Mike Pompeo, named Tuesday to be US secretary of state, comes from a one-year stint leading the Central Intelligence Agency where he earned Donald Trump's trust delivering the president's daily national security briefings and by toeing Trump's line politically.
Pompeo, who replaces Rex Tillerson, brings the discipline of a former standout at West Point, the prestigious US military academy, as well as the political wiles of a four-term member of the House of Representatives, where he served on the controversial Intelligence Committee.
AS CIA director he cut a path into Trump's inner circle with ready praise of the president, personally delivering many of the Oval Office's crucial daily intelligence briefings.
He echoes Trump's hard line against Iran and North Korea. But, currying the president's favor, Pompeo has also avoided directly contradicting Trump's insistence that Russia did not work to support his election in 2016 -- even though that is what the CIA concludes.
'With Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process,' Trump said Tuesday.
Pompeo, 54, has had a meteoric career that leaned heavily on political opportunities that ultimately led him to Trump.
Born and raised in southern California, he attended the US Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated top of his class in 1986, specializing in engineering.
He served in the military for five years - never in combat - and then left to attend Harvard Law School.
He later founded an engineering company in Wichita, Kansas, where financial backers included the conservative Koch brothers, oil industry billionaires and powerful movers and shakers in the Republican Party.
Pursuit: Pompeo made his name going after Hillary Clinton as a member of special committee formed to investigate the 2012 killing of a US ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
The Kochs backed his successful first run for Congress in 2010, and energy-related legislation he promoted in his first years in the House of Representatives was seen as very friendly to them.
He moved quickly onto the House Intelligence Committee, where, as overseer of the CIA and other agencies, he was privy to the country's deepest secrets.
But he made his name on the special committee Republicans formed to investigate the 2012 killing of a US ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
It made him a leading voice against Trump's political nemesis, Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state at the time was blamed by Republicans for the deaths.
Dennis Rodman takes credit for Otto Warmbier's release: NBA star returns from North Korea claiming he got 'tortured' American freed and 'didn't know the fatally-ill student was sick'
South Korea's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong (C-L) meeting US President Donald J. Trump (C) at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 08 March 2018
South Korea's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong (L) meeting US President Donald J. Trump (R) at the White House in Washington, DC, USA
'President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation and President Moon. He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong Un at a place and time to be determined,' Sanders said.
'We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.'
Chung, who made the announcement on behalf of South Korea, led the delegation visiting North Korea earlier this week, and the invitation to meet Trump was reportedly made to him directly by Kim Jong Un.
Chung said that Kim understands and accepts the fact that joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises will continue, but that he also made promises to halt nuclear testings until the meeting with Trump takes place.
A U.S. official later said the meeting would take place in 'a matter of a couple of months' but did not commit the president to a face-to-face with Kim this spring.
'He [Kim] conveyed that he wants to meet with President Trump as quickly as possible,' the senior official stated.
The senior official said the stiff punishing actions on North Korea would also stay in place.
'At this point we're not even talking about negotiations,' the official said of a plan to hold North Korea to its word that it would freeze its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile development programs.
President Trump reiterated the point in a tweet that followed.
'Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!' the U.S. president said.
The planned meeting of the two world leaders has been met with praise from other nations.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomed the news, saying that Russia considers the move 'a step in the right direction.'
He went on to express hope that the agreement would be implemented and that it is 'necessary for normalizing the situation around the Korean peninsula.'
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry in China - North Korea's key ally - said it hopes all parties to the will 'show their political courage' in restarting negotiations, and pledges its support in working toward that goal.
Spokesman Geng Shuang on Friday said China welcomes and supports the 'positive inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea interactions.'
Geng told reporters at a regularly scheduled press briefing that China hope that all parties 'will continue to strive for the political resolution and lasting peace and stability on the peninsula.'
Stiff punishing actions on North Korea will continue, despite the overture, the U.S. stressed
News that Trump had agreed to meet the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent Asian stock markets surging and the yen tumbling.
It provided a springboard for Asian markets, with Seoul surging 1.1 percent and Tokyo ending 0.5 percent higher.
Hong Kong added more than one percent, Sydney and Singapore each rose 0.3 percent, and Shanghai jumped 0.6 percent. Taipei, Manila, Wellington and Mumbai were also higher.
'It's a big deal - there's no question this is a positive move,' Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk research and consulting firm in New York, told Bloomberg TV.
'But also there is the possibility that it could go badly, that Trump could be embarrassed that they make an agreement that Kim Jong Un could backslide on.'
Hopes that the two could reach some sort of agreement also led to a plunge in the yen, which is considered a go-to safe currency in times of volatility and uncertainty. The dollar jumped to its highest level in a week.
Market effect: A South Korean dealer works in front of monitors at the KEB Hana Bank in Seoul, South Korea
The announcement on the White House lawn came almost exactly 24 hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US was 'a long way from negotiations' with the North.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to the African nation of Djibouti on Friday, Tillerson said the swift turnaround was down to the President.
'That is a decision the president took himself. I spoke to him very early this morning about that decision and we had a very good conversation.
'President Trump has said for some time that he was open to talks and he would willingly meet with Kim when conditions were right,' the top U.S. diplomat said.
'And I think in the president's judgment that time has arrived now.'
He said the United States was surprised at how 'forward-leaning' Kim was in his conversations with a visiting South Korean delegation. He said it was the strongest indication to date of Kim's 'not just willingness but really his desire for talks'.
President Donald Trump cautiously approached North Korea's offer to freeze its nuclear program while it holds a 'candid dialogue' with the United States on Tuesday
First, Trump sent out a tweet on Tuesday morning that said, 'We will see what happens!'
The U.S. president said he wants to take the 'proper' pathway, which he suggested was diplomatic talks, 'But we are prepared to go either way.'
'And as I said, hopefully we'll go in the very, very peaceful, beautiful path. We're prepared to go whichever path is necessary,' he added. 'I think we're having very good dialogue, and you're gonna certainly find out very soon what's happening, but we have, we have made progress, there's no question about it.'
That morning, Trump warned North Korean despot Kim Jong-un, 'The U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!'
The U.S. president said then that 'possible progress' toward talks had been made, but it could also be a 'false hope.'
On Saturday evening, Trump said that the North Koreans had reached out and his administration would be meeting with Kim's government.
'They, by the way, called up a couple of days ago and said, 'We would like to talk.' And I said, 'So would we, but you have to de-nuke, you have to de-nuke.' So, let's see what happens,' the president stated. 'But we will be meeting and we'll see if anything positive happens.'
An National Security Council spokesman did not respond to DailyMail.com's request for clarification, and a senior official would not tell reporters during a call on Tuesday afternoon if talks were already under way.
Special guests: Kim Jong Un sits next to his wife Ri Sol-Ju, with his sister Kim Yo-Jong sat to the right of one of the South Korean diplomats during a meal hosted by North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets members of the special delegation of South Korea's President in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency
As the Olympics unfolded in South Korea, the United States loudly warned the world that Kim was putting on a charm offensive.
Vice President Mike Pence, who led the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony, urged the international community, and South Korea, not let up on the North until Kim fully capitulates when it comes to his building of nuclear weapons.
'The policy of the U.S. is the denuclearization of North Korea. The maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. All options are on the table,' a senior official said of Pence's message to Moon as he departed the peninsula.
Pence announced during the trip, and the United States followed up with, a rigorous set of sanctions that the Trump administration described as the largest and most aggressive to date.
Treasury blacklisted one person, 27 companies and 28 ships with the action it says was 'aimed at shutting down North Korea's illicit maritime smuggling activities to obtain oil and sell coal.' The sanctions hit entities in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Singapore and others.
Steve Mnuchin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, said that nearly all of North Korea's shipping sector had now been targeted. The total number of sanctions steps since 2005 has now hit 45 - with almost half of the actions coming since Trump took office.
At a press conference later in the day, Trump said he'd make preparations for 'phase two' if the punishing actions are not successful, the outcome of which could be 'very, very unfortunate for the world.'
'But hopefully the sanctions will work,' he said during remarks at a joint White House press conference with the Australian prime minister.
The North Korean dictator shakes hands with South Korea's national security director Chung Eui-yong as his sister looks on
No insight: Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government
Parents of US student Otto Warmbier, 22, lash brutal N. Korean regime as their son dies, six days after being brought home in a coma after 17 months in prison for stealing a propaganda poster
Retired basketball legend Dennis Rodman is claiming credit Friday for the release of American college student Otto Warmbier from a North Korean prison last week
Rodman (seen left alongside his agent, Chris Volo) arrived in North Korea on the same day Warmbier was handed over to the US in a comatose state. ‘I asked on behalf of Dennis for his release three times,’ Volo tells ABC News. 'I know being there had something to do with it'
‘Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto returning to the United States,’ Fred Warmbier told GMA.
Warmbier was laid to rest in Wyoming, Ohio, on Thursday.
Rodman revealed Friday that he reached out to the Warmbier family in a bid to arrange a meeting, but was rebuffed.
‘I was just so happy to see the kid released,’ Rodman told GMA co-host Michael Strahan of his initial reaction when he learned Warmbier was going home.
'Later that day, that's when we found out he was ill, no one knew that.'
The University of Virginia student is thought to have been in a coma since he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster in March 2016. He is seen above in Pyongyang in this February 29, 2016 file photo
While Rodman suggested that he played a role in Warmbier’s release, both the State Department and the student’s father said this was not true. Warmbier is seen above on June 13 landing in Cincinnati. He died this past Monday from a neurological condition
Warmbier's casket is carried from Wyoming High School after his funeral on Thursday in Wyoming, Ohio
Rodman arrived in North Korea on Monday, June 12, the same day Warmbier was released in a comatose state.
Warmbier, 22, died in an Ohio hospital on Monday after North Korea freed him for what it called humanitarian reasons.
Doctors at the hospital said he had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause.
North Korea on Friday denied torturing Warmbier in the first official reaction since the University of Virginia student died after returning home in a coma.
The hermit state broke its silence after South Korea said the North bore responsibility for Warmbier's fate and President Donald Trump slammed his detention and death as 'a total disgrace'.
The University of Virginia student is thought to have been in a coma since he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster in March 2016.
Rodman says he wanted to 'give all the prayer and love' to the Warmbiers.
Rodman also reveals to GMA on Friday that during this most recent five-day trip, he did not meet North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un. Still, Rodman says that Kim is a personal friend of his – so much so that the two men spend quality time together. 'We sing karaoke,' Rodman says
His earlier visits to North Korea in 2013 and 2014 included a basketball game that he organized, an event chronicled in the documentary film ‘Big Bang in Pyongyang’, which featured Rodman singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Kim
Rodman has faced ridicule and criticism for his trips to North Korea, which some US politicians and activists view as serving only as fodder for North Korean propaganda. Rodman is seen above with North Korean schoolchildren during his most recent trip
When asked about Otto Warmbier’s state, Rodman says: ‘I didn’t know he was sick.’
Volo says that Rodman reached out to Warmbier’s family in hopes of arranging a meeting.
‘But we were told that, you know, it just couldn’t happen,’ the agent says.
Rodman also reveals to GMA on Friday that during this most recent five-day trip, he did not meet North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un.
‘The previous times we did,’ Rodman says.
‘I think the fact that, you know, my trips going up to North Korea is more like trying... to get to communicate sports-wise. It ain't about trying to release people.
‘It's not trying to do... political stuff. It's almost just trying to reach out for sports and see if I can bring sports to North Korea,’ Rodman said.
Rodman and his agent, Volo, were spotted in New York City on Friday
Otto Warmbier (pictured ashe was taken in to custody in Pyongyang last January) has died days after being brought back to the United States in a coma from North Korea