Now that whatever progress was accomplished by South Korea and North Korea cooperating over the Winter Olympics is two weeks in the rearview, the U.S. has announced another new series of sanctions against North Korea aimed at strangling their resources and pushing them to abandon their nuclear program.
Speaking at CPAC, President Trump described the new sanctions as “the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before.” The new measures target several vessels and shipping companies that the Trump administration feels participated in trade that was barred under previous sanctions. Earlier in the day, he had tweeted that his daughter, Ivanka, had traveled to South Korea (ostensibly for the closing of the Olympics) and had been briefed on the issue before departing in order to brief South Korean President Moon Jae-in, an act confirmed by CNN.
According to the Washington Post, President Moon said that South Korea was committed to simultaneously keeping dialogue open between itself and North Korea and the United States. As with other reports, the U.S. is convinced that North Korea is engaged in extremely elaborate activities in order to skirt previous sanctions:
Senior U.S. officials described elaborate steps that North Korea has taken to conceal its illicit shipping activities, including conducting prohibited ship-to-ship transfers, falsifying ship names and disabling vessels’ automatic identification systems “to try to intentionally mask their movements.”
Nikki Haley is reported as saying that the existing sanctions on North Korea are having a “real impact,” despite North Korea still refusing to end its nuclear program. Haley further characterized the North Korean’s participation in the Winter Olympics as a sign of desperation.