TOKYO (AP) - Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. is preparing to announce the â€śtoughest and most aggressiveâ€ť economic sanctions against North Korea in the coming days, boosting pressure on the bellicose 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.
â€śThe 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,â€ť Pence said.
U.S. officials declined to provide details of the expected sanctions beyond Penceâ€™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.
North Korea is already facing unprecedented sanctions after three U.N. Security Council restrictions in the past year that have slashed the pariah nationâ€™s export revenue and capped fuel imports. Unilaterally, the U.S. has also targeted North Korean shipping companies and Chinese trading networks. A potential escalation of sanctions could be U.S. blacklisting of Chinese banks accused of providing North Korea access to the international financial system and facilitating sanctions evasion.
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 North Korea.
In meetings with government leaders, military officials and U.S. service members, Pence said he wants to make sure the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics donâ€™t distract from North Koreaâ€™s human rights abuses and nuclear program.
He met with Abe at his official residence to discuss increasing pressure on the North.