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The White House is hinting it could ramp up sanctions against North Korea

A senior White House official says that the US is “still short” of applying maximum pressure to Pyongyang.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Hours after President Trump canceled his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump’s administration hinted that it might ratchet up sanctions against his country.

A senior White House official told reporters on Thursday that the administration’s goal is to “achieve maximum pressure” on Kim’s government using sanctions, and that “we’re still short of that.”

“It’s like painting the Golden Gate Bridge,” the senior administration official said. “It starts peeling as soon as you finish, and so you have to keep a new coat of paint going just to maintain a certain level of pressure.”

The Trump administration has pursued sanctions as a pressure tactic to try to persuade Kim to halt his nuclear weapon and ballistic missile testing. At the United Nations, the US has successfully gotten multiple rounds of harsh sanctions passed, including a resolution in December that makes it harder for North Korea to import fuel and sell food to foreign countries.

It’s possible that additional sanctions — if powerful enough — could anger Kim and make a future summit less likely. And every time tensions between the US and North Korea rise, the likelihood of war breaking out between the two countries rises as well.