In his brief remarks on Wednesday, the President said he had approved a new executive order allowing the United States to "immediately sanction the military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests as well as close family members."
"The US government is taking steps to prevent the generals from improperly having access to the one billion dollars in Burmese government funds held in the United States," Biden noted.
"We're also going to impose strong export controls," he added. "We're freezing US assets that benefit the Burmese government while maintaining our support for health care, civil society groups, and other areas that benefit the people of Burma directly," he said.
Biden asked the military junta to release detained protesters and civilian leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint saying, "The military must relinquish the power they've seized and demonstrate respect for the will of the people of Burma, as expressed in their November 8 election".
Biden said he had been in contact with allies around the world to discuss the threat to democracy in Myanmar and said he planned to use the administration's "renewed engagement" with the United Nations Human Rights Council to "strengthen the world's commitment to human rights". He added, "We'll be ready to impose additional measures and we'll continue to work with our international partners to urge other nations to join us in these efforts''.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday that "the international community is attempting every avenue to ensure that democracy and civilian leadership is restored in Burma."
"We are making no bones about where we stand when it comes to the military's need to relinquish power," Price said. "We are undertaking a careful review of the assistance that we provide to Burma and to ensure that those responsible for this coup do face significant consequences."
While Biden and his administration stressed that sanctions will only target Myanmar's military leaders, concern remains that such measures could impact the lives of innocent people. The wide-reaching sanctions the US imposed against the military junta that ruled Myanmar in the 1990s and 2000s proved to have a devastating effect on the country's economy, and some analysts argue the measures impacted the lives of ordinary citizens more than the military.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi had a phone call on Wednesday where they discussed ways to strengthen cooperation with allies and partners to address the military coup in Burma.