[Picture: Kyodor via Reuters]

By Stefan M. Kløvning

Amid the Winter Olympics, United States President Donald Trump announced in a speech for the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) that the US will be “launching the largest-ever set of new sanctions on the North Korean regime.” He stated that this would target the vessels avoiding the economic sanctions already set in place.

He more specifically said that “the Treasury Department will soon be taking new action to further cut off sources of revenue and fuel that the regime uses to fund its nuclear program and sustain its military by targeting 56 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses that are assisting North Korea in sanctions.”

There has already been put plenty of sanctions on North Korea by i.e. the United Nations, but this move will further reduce the chance of evading it by being assisted by businesses and vessels, and further isolate Pyongyang.

The Department of Treasury has already sanctioned one person, 27 companies and 28 foreign ships for assisting North Korea with its sanctions. These are located or registered in North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panamas and Comoros.

The US vice president Mike Pence was reportedly due to have meeting with the North Koreans for secret talks, but didn’t follow through with it, likely because of Trump’s announcement.

Many Americans fear North Korea being able to develop nuclear weapons capable of reaching US mainland, thus the requirement for American politicians to be in a stronger position against the regime.

The announcement has, however, stirred a bit of controversy as it may seem to tear apart the slight betterment of North-South relations in Korea during the Winter Olympics, where athletes from both countries marched under a unification flag and had a common women’s ice hockey team.