After Warmbier's death, U.S. weighs travel ban on North Korea

A ban on Americans visiting North Korea would only slightly add to Pyongyang's isolation and loss of revenue.

USA officials told CNN that it was not clear if Pyongyang was preparing for a new nuclear test, but said there was concern that the reclusive regime could initiate a test during a visit by Chinese officials to Washington on Wednesday.

President Moon, who is scheduled to visit Washington next week, also said in an interview with CBS on Tuesday he hoped to draw North Korea into negotiations on its nuclear program by the end of the year.

"I believe it's going to set back any serious discussion about a diplomatic dialogue until this is cleared up", former governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, an expert on North Korea who has helped extricate Americans held there, said of Warmbier's death.

His remarks came the day after after 22-year-old college student Otto Warmbier from Cincinnati, who had been imprisoned by the country since January 2016, died - only six days following his return to the United States. The American prisoner he brought home, Otto Warmbier, had been in a coma for most of the 17 months he spent incarcerated in the North.

When asked if Trump believes the Obama administration is partly to blame for what happened to Warmbier, Spicer said, "The president was pleased that he was able to work with the State Department and get Otto home as soon as he could, but I think when you realize what happened, the president believes that had it happened sooner or quicker, potentially there might have been additional medical resources that could have been provided".

John McCain said that Americans who are "stupid" enough to still want to visit North Korea should be required to sign a waiver absolving the US government of any blame if they're harmed while there. But neither the USA nor North Korea has showed signs of compromising.

He noted that there are three other Americans detained in North Korea with "trumped-up charges against them".

Barring Americans from stepping foot in North Korea would mark the latest USA step to isolate the furtive, nuclear-armed nation, and protect US citizens who may be allured by the prospect of traveling there.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that any "stupid" Americans still wanting to travel to North Korea after Warmbier's death should be made to renounce their right to government protection of their lives.

Relatives say Otto Warmbier died Monday.

USA lawmakers are pressing for a tough response against Pyongyang over its treatment of the 22-year-old university student, who was accused of trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting with a tour group and was convicted of subversion.

The coroner's office in Cincinnati is investigating Warmbier's death.

Trump has praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for trying to contain North Korea, which counts on China for 90 per cent of its trade, but the effort has delivered few results.

Other well-known North Korea tour operators, including Koryo Tours, founded by British expatriates in Beijing, and Uri Tours, with offices in New Jersey and Shanghai, said this week that they were "reviewing" their policies for American citizens. "At least I know China tried!"

The calls for a response come as spy satellites detected new activity at North Korea's underground nuclear test site for the first time in several weeks, according to two U.S. officials who spoke to CNN.

  • Leroy Wright