Travellers with U.S. passports will be banned from entering North Korea beginning Sept. 1 and Americans now in the country are being advised they should leave before the ban takes effect. The Canadian government, meanwhile has left the travel option open.
Last month the U.S. government announced it would restrict Americans from travelling to North Korea “due to mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention.”
The ban comes after the death of American university student Otto Warmbier, who fell into a coma while in North Korean custody, and the mounting tensions over North Korea’s weapons program.
“Persons currently in North Korea on a U.S. passport should depart North Korea before the travel restriction enters into effect on Friday, September 1, 2017,” the State Department said in a travel advisory.
The Canadian government has left the door open for passport holders looking to explore the secret state of North Korea, but it strongly advises against doing so.
“Global Affairs Canada has been advising Canadians against travel to North since early 2013,” Brianne Maxwell, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, said in a statement to Global News. “However, the decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. Travel advice and advisories, including the advisory for North Korea, are continuously reviewed and updated as necessary to ensure Canadians constantly have the best advice possible.”
The government recently updated a travel warning advising Canadians against all travel to North Korea “due to the uncertain security situation caused by North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program and highly repressive regime.”
“There is no resident Canadian government office in the country. The ability of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance in North Korea is extremely limited,” the government warned.
Last week, North Korea conducted its latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, a test which experts believe shows that the country theoretically has the ability to reach major U.S. cities with its weapons program.
The ICBM test lasted about 45 minutes and the missile reached an altitude of about 3,700 kilometres before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.
The Union of Concerned Scientists reported shortly after Friday’s test, that based on the preliminary numbers of flight time and distance travelled, if the rocket was launched at a “standard trajectory” it would have a reach of just over 10,000 kilometres.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the ICBM test, calling it “provocative” and “irresponsible.”
“We need to continue and we will continue to work with international allies and partners to put pressure on the North Korean regime to cease this behaviour,” the prime minister said. “We know protecting Canadians, protecting regional security is a top priority for us and that’s why we are going to continue to work to ensure that this does not escalate into a threat to Canadians.”
U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to deal with North Korea’s weapons program.
“We will handle North Korea,” Trump told reporters on Monday. “We’re going to be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything.”
Global Affairs Canada said six Canadians are currently registered with the Registration of Canadians Abroad as being in North Korea.
In an interview Wednesday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested that eventually there will be war between the U.S. and the North Korean regime if it continues with its weapons program.
Graham told NBC’s Today Show that Trump won’t allow the “ability of this mad man (North Korea leader Kim Jong Un) to have a missile to hit America.
“If there’s going to be a war to stop him, it will be over there. If thousands die they’re going to die over there, they’re not going to die here. And he has told me that to my face,” Graham said. “That may be proactive, but not really. When you’re president of the United States, where does your allegiance lie? To the people of the United States.”
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