US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 29, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The United States has imposed sanctions on a Chinese bank, accusing it of laundering money for North Korean companies. 
Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin announced the sanctions Thursday, cutting China's Bank of Dandong off from accessing the US financial system.
The US claims the Chinese bank acts a pipeline to support alleged illicit financial activity by North Korea.
“This bank has served as a gateway for North Korea to access the U.S. and international financial systems, facilitating millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” Mnuchin said.
The secretary did not rule out the possibility that other Chinese banks could be targeted by the US and other international partners.
"It's the first bank that we've cut off," he said. "We will continue to look at these actions and we will continue to roll out sanctions. We are committed to cutting off all illegal funds going to North Korea."
In addition, Mnuchin said the US had also sanctioned two individuals from China over ties to North Korean banks, as well as a Chinese company, Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co. Ltd.
This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows a test-fire of a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Photo by AFP)
The White House has been hoping that China would use its influence to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile ballistic programs.
However, President Donald Trump has expressed signs of frustrations with China’s efforts to rein in is ally.
"I wish we would have a little more help with respect to North Korea from China, but that doesn't seem to be working out," Trump said last week.
Thursday's action was the first time the US has taken punitive measures against a Chinese bank. In March, the US took similar steps against several Chinese businesses and individuals.
The sanctions were announced just hours before South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, arrived at the White House for a two-day summit with Trump.
US President Donald Trump (R) welcomes South Korean President Moon Jae-in before dinner at the White House, on June 29, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Moon, who had campaigned on a platform of greater engagement with Pyongyang, said the US and South Korea should offer concessions to the North in return for a halt to its nuclear program.
The North, currently under a raft of crippling United Nations sanctions over its military programs, says it will continue them until the US ends its hostility toward the country.
Meanwhile, US officials said Thursday that the Pentagon had finished revising its options against North Korea and would soon present them to President Trump.
The package includes a military response in case of a new missile or nuclear warhead test that would indicate Pyongyang has made significant progress in developing weapons capable of hitting the US. 

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