The Winter Olympics have been plugging away for two weeks already, and with only a few days left of the expensive spectacle, trouble can be seen lurking on the horizon.
The games themselves have been marred by controversy from the very start. The contests’ proximity to the rogue nation of North Korea was troubling enough for many in the global community, but the idea that the despotic DPRK would march and compete side by side with their South Korean enemies was almost too much for some to imagine. Concerns over a threat to the games coming from the Kim regime seem to have been overblown, however, as that piece of the Olympic puzzle seems to have fit without incident.
On the other hand, there have been a number of concerns regarding the safety of the games after a number of athletes have been hospitalized, including one snowboarder who broke his neck, and a skier who broke his pelvis on the Olympic courses.
Furthermore, nearly 1,200 security personnel had to be sent home before the games even began after contracting Norovirus – an extremely uncomfortable and contagious pathogen.
Now, with only three days left of the not-at-all serene spectacle, the Trump administration is announcing a new, even tougher round of sanctions against the already volatile North Korean regime, leading many to wonder just how the hermit kingdom will react in the final moments of the games.
“The sanctions by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control target one individual, 27 entities and 28 vessels located, registered or flagged in North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and Comoros, the Treasury said in a statement.
“'[We are] aggressively targeting all illicit avenues used by North Korea to evade sanctions, including taking decisive action to block the vessels, shipping companies, and entities across the globe that work on North Korea’s behalf,’ Treasury chief Steven Mnuchin said. ‘This will significantly hinder the Kim regime’s capacity to conduct evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, and erode its abilities to ship goods through international waters.’
“In its announcement, the Treasury released images which it says depicts ‘deceptive’ North Korean practices.
“’North Korea is known to employ deceptive shipping practices including, but not limited to, falsifying and concealing information displayed on North Korean vessels and conducting ship-to-ship transfers,’ the department said.”
North Korea has long stood accused of such trickery, having been spotted by spy satellites circumventing sanctions with the aid of both Russia and China – making for a sticky bit of situational diplomacy.
How Kim Jong Un and his cronies will react to this announcement has yet to be seen, but, given his penchant for dramatic drivel, there is little hope that this maneuver will be calmly regarded by the dainty dictator.