Overnight Defense: Trump announces new North Korea sanctions | Former officials urge Trump to exit Iran deal | Trump touts 'great progress in Afghanistan

Overnight Defense: Trump announces new North Korea sanctions | Former officials urge Trump to exit Iran deal | Trump touts 'great progress in Afghanistan
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THE TOPLINE: President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on North Korea as the U.S. and its allies sought to ramp up pressure on Kim Jong Un to abandon his nuclear ambitions.

Speaking at the United Nations before a working lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, two key allies in the region, Trump said the order would significantly expand the U.S. ability to crack down on individuals and companies that do business with North Korea.

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The president said he had empowered the Treasury Department to "target any individual or entity that conducts trade in goods, services or technology" with the country. The order also includes measures designed to "disrupt critical North Korean shipping and trade networks."

Flanked at a table by Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinAnalysis: House GOP tax bill adds .3T to the deficit Mnuchin: Comparisons to James Bond villain a compliment Sunday shows preview: GOP gears up for Senate tax reform push MORE, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's 12:30 Report Trump will declare North Korea a state sponsor of terror Tillerson condemns violence against LGBT people on Transgender Day of Remembrance MORE and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyThe Hill's 12:30 Report Russia vetoes US-led effort to renew chemical weapons inquiry in Syria Pentagon official: US to cut contributions to UN peacekeeping missions MORE, Trump expressed an urgency to curb North Korea's nuclear and ballistics 

The Hill's Jonathan Easley has more here.

 

The Hill's Jonathan Easley and Rebecca Kheel also take a closer look at the executive order. Here are five things to know about the new sanctions.

 

GOP REPS QUESTION $418M DRONE SALE TO KENYA: Two Republicans lawmakers are raising alarms over a pending $418 million deal to sell 12 U.S. drones to Kenya.

Reps. Duncan Hunter (Calif.) and Ted Budd (N.C.) brought attention to the deal this week after a new Government Accountability Office report found the Air Force did nothing wrong in awarding the drone contract to L-3 Technologies.

Budd, however, has claimed L-3 got the contract because of a "revolving door" relationship in which Pentagon officials have left the government to go work for L-3. 

Hunter and Budd in a letter to GAO Comptroller Gene Dodaro said they have "serious concerns regarding the integrity" of the agency's Sept. 5 report, and call into question the legitimacy of its findings and review process.

Read the rest here.

 

TRUMP TOUTS 'GREAT PROGRESS' IN AFGHANISTAN: President Trump during a meeting with Afghanistan's president on Thursday touted the "great progress" in the conflict there as the U.S. prepares to send more troops.

"We are working very well together, we are working very hard," Trump said. "Our military is as you know over there right now and doing really an incredible job, more of leadership than fighting. We are leading a lot of wonderful Afghan troops who are fighting very hard ... and great progress is being made."

Still, sitting next to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the United Nations, Trump described Afghanistan as a "hornet's nest" for terror groups in comments one day after the Pentagon announced it will send 3,000 additional U.S. troops to the country. 

Read more here.

 

FORMER SECURITY OFFICIALS URGE TRUMP TO ABANDON IRAN DEAL: Numerous former intelligence, nuclear and defense officials are urging President Trump to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

"We are writing to you as national security experts, many who worked in the nuclear weapons, arms control, nonproliferation and intelligence fields, to express our strong opposition to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran ... and to ask that you withdraw the United States from this dangerous agreement as soon as possible," the 45 experts wrote in a Thursday letter to Trump.

The experts also want Trump to "declare to Congress next month that Iran has not been complying with this agreement and that it is not in the national security interests of the United States."

Trump must either decide to recertify the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), by a deadline of Oct. 15 or walk away. Should he walk away, he would set off a series of events that would ultimately end the deal, a move advised against by the six other partners in the agreement: United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union.

Read more on the letter here.  

 

ICYMI:

-- The Hill: Sanders rips Trump in foreign policy speech, defends Iran deal

-- The Hill: Marine Corps to graduate female infantry officer

-- The Hill: Watchdog: US troops used cop shows for help training Afghan forces

-- The Hill: Sanders blasts GOP push to increase military spending

-- The Hill: US, Russian generals meet face-to-face after Syria clash

-- The Hill: Former NSA, CIA chief: I can't support spy hacking if we can't keep tools secret

-- The Hill: North Korea likens Trump's UN speech to sound of a 'dog barking'

--Reuters: Russia says will target U.S.-backed fighters in Syria if provoked

 

Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Kheel, rkheel@thehill.com, and Ellen Mitchell, emitchell@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @thehill@Rebecca_H_K@EllenMitchell23