U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stated Wednesday that the White House is preparing to unveil the “most aggressive” sanctions ever against North Korea.
Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Pence vowed that the U.S. and its allies would continue targeting Pyongyang until it ends its missile and nuclear weapons programs.
“I’m announcing today that the United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever,” Pence said. “We will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile program once and for all.”
The vice president’s remarks come just days before the Winter Olympics are set to begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Pence will lead the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony Friday and will be joined by the father of Otto Warmbier, the American student who died after 17 months of imprisonment in North Korea.
According to the Associated Press, Pence is also expected to meet Friday morning with defectors from the North.
North Korea’s ceremonial leader, Kim Yong Nam, and the sister of leader Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, will likewise attend the opening ceremonies.
While the vice president has labeled Pyongyang the planet’s “most tyrannical and oppressive regime,” Pence declined to rule out the possibility of a meeting with North Korean officials while en route to Japan Tuesday.
“President Trump has said he always believes in talking, but I haven’t requested any meetings,” Pence told reporters. “But we’ll see what happens.”
Exerts remain skeptical that such a meeting will take place given the numerous symbolic gestures planned by Pence intended to highlight North Korea’s brutality.
The Trump administration’s goal, as stated by the vice president, remains the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization” of North Korea.