Pence Cancels North Korea Human Rights Speech Amid Tensions

Officials concerned speech would further alienate North Korea

A speech by Vice president Mike Pence condemning the human rights situation in North Korea was cancelled last week at the last minute. Officially, this was chalked up to a scheduling conflict.

Others, however, are suggesting that the decision was related to concerns about the mounting tensions with North Korea on denuclearization. In particular, there was fear that such a speech would further alienate the north from the peace process.

Yet not condemning North Korea is itself fueling concern from some other groups, who say it is a sign that the administration is soft on North Korea’s abuses. This is particularly true as the State Department promises to review restrictions on humanitarian aid into the country.

In reality, the administration hasn’t eased any sanctions, and in fact a big part of the negotiation problems is that despite a lot of progress the US actually has more sanctions and restrictions in place now than when diplomacy began. This has many North Koreans feeling that the US is acting in bad faith.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of