The Trump administration is hitting more than 50 vessels, shipping companies, and trade businesses with sanctions in the latest bid to turn up the pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, a senior administration official said Friday. President Trump was set to announce the action at the Conservative Political Action Conference in a Friday morning speech, followed by a public announcement from the Treasury Department, reports the AP. “Today I am announcing that we are launching the largest ever set of new sanctions on the North Korean regime,” Trump said in advance excerpts of his speech provided by the White House, per the Washington Post.
The 56 vessels and related businesses have conducted trade banned under UN sanctions, according to the White House. The announcement comes as South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics, an occasion the two Koreas have used as an opportunity to ease tensions and restart talks, though the move is not a huge surprise: It comes two weeks after Vice President Mike Pence, who attended the Olympics opening, promised the "toughest and most aggressive" economic sanctions against North Korea. (Will this complicate Ivanka Trump's visit?)