WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that the United States would launch the heaviest set of sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
"We imposed today the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before," Trump said in an address to a conservative activist group in the state of Maryland.
Photo provided by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 1, 2017 shows top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un (Front) guiding the Korean People's Army Tank Crews' Competition-2017. (Xinhua/KCNA)
The new sanctions, the "largest-ever" package on the DPRK, will target 56 vessels, shipping companies, and trade businesses, said senior Trump administration officials at a background briefing earlier in the day.
The penalty, which is part of the U.S. maximum pressure campaign on Pyongyang, will designate 27 companies, 28 ships and one person, according to a statement released by the U.S. Treasury.
The move came amid the recent positive momentum on the Korean Peninsula as Pyongyang and Seoul have embarked on an apparent rapprochement with the PyeongChang Winter Olympics over the past month.
Flag bearer of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Hwang Chung-gum (L) and flag bearer of South Korea Won Yun-jong march together under a unified Korean flag during the opening ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang, South Korea, Feb. 9, 2018. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)
However, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence threatened earlier this month to slap the "toughest and most aggressive" sanctions on the already weakened DPRK.
Some experts saw his harsh rhetoric as the main reason that led the DPRK to call off a scheduled Feb. 10 meeting with Pence at the winter games.