Days before Olympics faceoff, USA vows new North Korea sanctions

Lucy Bush
February 9, 2018

He is set to meet Wednesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss increasing pressure on the North.

Mr Moon's spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said the North Korean delegates will attend the opening ceremony of the Games on Friday evening.

But critics say South Korea is playing into the hands of North Korea as it tries to use the Olympics to poke holes in sanctions.

While Choe is the only member of the North Korean delegation blacklisted by the Security Council, South Korea asked the sanctions committee for broad approval to host the entire high-level delegation from Pyongyang between February 9 and 11, according to the request seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Analysts say Kim Yo Jong inclusion in the Olympic delegation shows North Korea's ambition to use the Olympics to break out from diplomatic isolation by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the US.

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While South Korea says the move was inevitable to ensure the successful hosting of the Pyeongchang Games, some critics say Seoul is sending the wrong message to North Korea and also the worldwide community, which has been stepping up financial and maritime sanctions against the North in recent months.

Pence shied away from public criticism of Moon when they met Thursday evening, congratulating South Korea on hosting the games and pledging continued support in addressing the North's nuclear threat.

"As we speak, an estimated 100,000 North Korean citizens labor in modern-day gulags", Pence said.

Oil has taken center stage in global efforts to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, with Washington urging a drastic cut in energy supplies to the isolated country. They are expected to be implemented before the conclusion of the games.

North Korea is already facing unprecedented sanctions after three U.N. Security Council restrictions in the past year that have slashed the pariah nation's export revenue and capped fuel imports. The United Nations bans sending luxury items to North Korea or to North Korean nationals. North Korea time at Kim Il-sung square.

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North Korea has shown increasing interest in cryptocurrency over the a year ago, likely as a result of a number of factors including the sudden rise of value of numerous cryptocurrencies as well as new economic sanctions that have made it hard for the isolated nation to generate revenue.

Pence reiterated Washington's stance that "all options are on the table" to deal with North Korea.

Pence's personal guest at the games will be Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, an American who died previous year days after his release from captivity in North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is widely viewed as trying to weaken the alliance and the impact of sanctions.

Before leaving Japan for Korea, Pence announced that the USA would unveil in coming days "the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever".

"US officials including the defense secretary and the Central Intelligence Agency director repeatedly talked about DPRK nuclear and missile threat to justify their argument for a military option and a new concept of a so-called "bloody nose", a limited preemptive strike on the DPRK is under consideration within the United States administration", Ju said.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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