U.S. President Donald Trump announced the largest-ever set of sanctions against North Korea during a speech Friday, the latest step in a campaign to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and long-range missile development programs.
Trump will unveil the new penalties at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual event outside Washington attended by thousands of conservative politicians, strategists and activists.
According to the White House, the Treasury Department will soon be taking new action to further cut off sources of revenue and fuel that the regime uses to fund its nuclear program and sustain its military by targeting 56 vessels, shipping companies, and trade businesses that are assisting North Korea in evading sanctions.
Some experts believe the additional sanctions could jeopardize the recent easement in tensions between North and South Korea. The North is participating in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and the two countries are preparing for more talks after recent high-level discussions earlier this month in Pyeongchang.
The sanctions come as Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is visiting South Korea. She had dinner earlier Friday with South Korean President Moon Jai-in and will attend the Games’ closing ceremony.
The national debate over gun control in the wake of the February 14 killing of students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, also will likely be addressed by Trump. The centerpiece of his response to the killings to date has been a proposal to arm some teachers with guns.
"When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones it just puts our students in more danger – well-trained gun-adept teachers and coaches should be able to carry concealed firearms," Trump will say according to the White House.
On Thursday, Trump refined his gun control views, saying he wants only the most trained 20 percent of teachers to carry concealed weapons to thwart school massacres. Trump also called for comprehensive background checks of gun buyers, ending the sale of "bump stocks" that increase the fire power of some weapons, and raising the age to buy assault-style rifles from 18 to 21.
The age proposal is opposed by the National Rifle Association, one of the country’s most powerful lobbying groups that claims 5 million members.