SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Sunday condemned the latest round of sanctions imposed by the United States, accusing it of trying to undermine an improvement in inter-Korean relations during the Winter Olympics, state media said in a statement.
“The two Koreas have cooperated together and the Olympics was held successfully,” the North’s state media said in a statement.
“But the U.S. brought the threat of war to the Korean peninsula with large-scale new sanctions.”
A blockade by the United States would be considered an act of war, the KCNA state news agency said, citing North Korea’s foreign ministry.
President Donald Trump said Friday that the U.S. had leveled its “heaviest sanctions ever” against North Korea, targeting the regime’s shipping and trading abilities.
Trump announces tough new sanctions against North Korea
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In his prepared remarks to CPAC, Trump noted that the sanctions targeting 56 total shipping companies, businesses and shipping vessels will “further cut off sources of revenue and fuel that the regime uses to fund its nuclear program and sustain its military.”
Asked Friday afternoon what he would do if the new sanctions don’t work to curtail North Korea’s aggression, Trump said a “phase two” could be the next step.
“Phase two may be a very rough thing, may be very unfortunate for the world,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
One day earlier, Vice President Mike Pence used his platform at the annual conservative gathering to remind attendees that the United States “doesn’t stand with murderous dictatorships, we stand up to murderous dictatorships.”
Pence’s comments came after his trip to the Olympic opening ceremonies earlier this month, where he sat during the playing of the North Korean national anthem.
Despite the tough talk, however, the vice president’s office later confirmed to NBC News that a pre-planned meeting in Pyeongchang between Pence and North Korean delegates (including North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yong Nam) was derailed because North Korea backed out hours before the meeting was set to take place.