Vice President Mike Pence vowed Wednesday to impose the “toughest and most aggressive” sanctions against North Korea, the latest salvo as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang rise ahead of the Olympics.
“We have brought unprecedented diplomatic and economic pressure to bear on North Korea through our maximum pressure campaign” to force Pyongyang to move toward “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization,” the vice president explained in Japan, adding, “To that end, I‘m announcing today the United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever.”
Pence also stated that “all options are on the table.”
Pence is on his way to South Korea for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. His mission is to counter North Korea’s propaganda efforts at the Olympics by reminding the world that North Korea is a murderous country, not a normal state. Accompanying the vice president is Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, a young American college student who died last year after a year in detention in North Korea.
North Korea is sending Kim Yong Nam, the ceremonial leader of North Korea and the most senior official to visit South Korea since the signing of the armistice following the Korean War. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is also sending his younger sister Kim Yo Jong, the first member of the ruling North Korean family to visit South Korea since the Korean War.
The North is also sending a massive delegation of cheerleaders, cultural performers, and athletes to hype up the regime.
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North and South Korea will march together under a unified banner at the Olympics, and the two countries torn apart by war will even field a unified Korean Olympic team. Olympic athletes from the two Koreas have even trained together in North Korea, providing the North with an excellent opportunity to promote a ski resort built with funds that could have been used to feed a starving population.
As the South celebrates its so-called “Peace Olympics” and the North steals the show with carefully-crafted propaganda, the U.S. is working hard to prevent North Korea from hijacking the message.
“We’ll be telling the truth about North Korea,” Pence explained Monday, further stating, “We are traveling to the Olympics to make sure that North Korea doesn’t use the powerful symbolism and the backdrop of the Winter Olympics to paper over the truth about the regime, … a regime that oppresses its own people, a regime that threatens nations around the world, a regime that continues its headlong rush to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.”
At his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump introduced the Warmbiers and North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho as witnesses to the brutality of the North Korean regime. A few days later, the president met with roughly half a dozen defectors in the Oval Office. While Pyongyang is trying to use the Olympics to reshape its international image, the U.S. is taking steps to counter that narrative and present North Korea as a callous and cruel regime that oppresses its own people and threatens the world with destruction.
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