President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed new sanctions on North Korea, Russia and Iran into law, insisting that the legislation remains "seriously flawed."
Trump signed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act despite his earlier opposition to it in the face of overwhelming support for the bill in both the House of Representatives and Senate.
"Despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity," the president said in a statement released by the White House. "It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary."
The bill imposes new sanctions on Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a charge Trump has vehemently denied. It also prevents the president from unilaterally lifting existing sanctions on the country.
"The bill remains seriously flawed -- particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate," Trump said. "By limiting the Executive's flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together."
On North Korea and Iran, the president said the bill sends a message to those nations that the American people "will not tolerate their dangerous and destabilizing behavior."
He added, "America will continue to work closely with our friends and allies to check those countries' malignant activities."
The sanctions on North Korea target those providing the country with crude oil and other products that help its nuclear and missile programs. They are among the first penalties to be imposed on Pyongyang following its two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles last month.
The new law also prohibits ships owned by the North Korean government or any country not complying with U.N. Security Council resolutions from docking in the U.S. and bans goods produced by North Korean forced labor from entering the U.S.
Russia has retaliated to the financial sanctions by ordering significant reductions in the number of staff at U.S. diplomatic missions in the country.
"I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected," Trump said. "As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress."
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, called for a complete economic embargo against the North.
"Every nation of conscience should cut off all finance and trade with North Korea, with a few limited humanitarian exceptions, until such time that Pyongyang is willing to meet its international commitments to peacefully denuclearize," he said in a commentary posted on CNN's website.
The senator urged the Trump administration to block all dollar-denominated transactions that benefit Pyongyang and use both coercive and noncoercive diplomatic tools to make China understand there will be no business as usual with the U.S. if it continues to prop up that regime. (Yonhap)