Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. is preparing to announce the “toughest and most aggressive” economic sanctions against The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the coming days, boosting pressure on the government during the Winter Olympics.
Pence, who is set to lead the U.S. delegation at the opening ceremonies Friday, made the announcement in Japan on Wednesday, following meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“The United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever — and we will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all,” Pence said.
U.S. officials declined to provide details of the expected sanctions beyond Pence’s comments, citing concerns that any additional information could be used by those trying to skirt the new measures. They are expected to be implemented before the conclusion of the games.
On a six-day trip to Japan and South Korea, Pence is seeking to reassure and refocus American allies on the growing nuclear threat from the DPRK.
In meetings with government leaders, military officials and U.S. service members, Pence said he wants to make sure the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics don’t distract from the DPRK’s human rights abuses and nuclear program. He met with Abe at his official residence to discuss increasing pressure on the country.
“The United States is with you in this challenge,” Pence told Abe as they began their talks. “And we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Japan, the people of South Korea, and our allies and partners across the region until we achieve the global objective of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Pence watched Japanese troops demonstrate the simulated deployment of Japan’s surface-to-air missile defense system, which would attempt to intercept a DPRK missile. He also participated in a briefing at Japan’s Ministry of Defense on the threat.
“The people of Japan can be assured: The full range of the Armed Forces of the United States will continue to be dedicated to the protection of Japan,” Pence said, promising again that “all options are on the table” to address the DPRK threat.
Pence will travel on to South Korea on Thursday for meetings with President Moon Jae-in, where he will promote the Trump administration’s campaign of “maximum pressure” against the DPRK, as the South pursues a diplomatic opening around the Winter Olympics.
Story by The Associated Press