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U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is warning the Syrian regime against conducting another chemical weapons attack, saying in a statement that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian military "will pay a heavy price."

The statement was released Monday night after the White House said the U.S. had found "potential" evidence that Assad was preparing an attack similar to the one carried out on April 4 that killed dozens of civilians, including children.

"If ... Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price,” the statement warned.

The April chemical attack took place at the Shayrat airbase.

In a response to that attack, the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian base from two U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea.

"The activity we have seen at Shayrat in the last couple of days is associated with chemical weapons handling at a known spot on that base, a known aircraft shelter that’s used for chemical weapons," Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters on Tuesday. "And that is what inspired the statement you saw last night."

According to Davis, the intelligence suggesting that Syria was preparing for another attack emerged over the last few days with the information becoming "more compelling yesterday."

Davis would not say if the Pentagon has presented President Trump with a series of options to respond to an attack by the Assad regime.

Separately, a U.S. official told ABC News that military planning has been underway for several days in case options are required.

ABC News breaks down some of the military options the U.S. could take if the Assad regime launches another chemical weapons attack.

Tomahawk missiles from the Mediterranean

The U.S. could choose to repeat its April response by launching a barrage of Tomahawk missiles from U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea.

The USS Ross and USS Porter, which launched the 59 missiles in April that took out roughly 20 Syrian planes, are no longer in the region.

However, the George H.W. Bush carrier strike group is southwest of Cyprus. That group contains guided missile cruisers, the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and USS Hue City (CG 66), as well as guided-missile destroyers USS Truxtun (DDG 103) and USS Cole (DDG-67).

Tomahawk missiles were the chosen weapon of choice in April for several reasons. They are intermediate-range, jet engine-powered missiles that can be launched from a ship or submarine. They fly at low levels, up to 1,500 miles at 550 mph, and can carry a 1,000-pound conventional warhead.

Perhaps most importantly, their use ensures that U.S. military personnel aren’t put in harm’s way. The long and lean missile, standing 18-20 feet, simply finds its target using GPS coordinates.

But it doesn’t necessarily fly in a straight line. Rather, the U.S. Navy describes the path as “an evasive route” designed by “several mission-tailored guidance systems.”

For all its benefits, the Tomahawk doesn’t come cheap; every missile costs nearly $1 million.

Additionally, Russia's air defense systems in Syria are capable of shooting down incoming Tomahawk missiles.

Russia has conducted recent cruise missile strikes in Syria launched from Russian Navy ships offshore. The Russians have used those missile launches to strike at what they say are terrorist targets. But a U.S. official says the Russians have also used the launches to calibrate the targeting radars that could be used to bring down tomahawk missiles.

Manned or unmanned aircraft

Another option is for manned or unmanned U.S. aircraft to target the Shayat airbase again or hit other Syrian military installations. These aircraft could launch from neighboring ships or U.S. bases in the region.

But this option carries significant risk, in part because U.S. planes could be brought down by Russia's sophisticated long-range air defense systems.

Furthermore, as a result of the U.S. downing a Syrian war plane earlier this month, Russia has said it will target any U.S. aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Syria has denied the Trump administration's charge that it may be planning "another chemical weapons attack," which the White House said "will likely result in the mass murder of civilians."

In a statement released late Monday evening, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the United States had found "potential" evidence that Assad was preparing to conduct an attack similar to the one carried out April 4 that killed dozens of civilians, including children.

"The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children," the statement said. "The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017, chemical weapons attack."

"If ... Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price," the statement warned.

The strong wording of the White House's statement drew a reaction from Russia, a key ally and military partner of Assad's government.

"We do not know what is the basis for this," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday. "And of course, we categorically disagree with the 'another attack' wording."

"We also consider any similar threats to the legitimate leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic unacceptable," he added.

The April 4 attack, which killed at least 70 people in the rebel-held territory of Idlib province, prompted President Trump to order a cruise missile strike on a Syrian government-controlled air base. The Assad regime has denied responsibility for the attack.

The strike was the United States' first direct assault on the Syrian government and was one of Trump's most dramatic military orders since taking office.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Monday that Assad's two main military backers, Russia and Iran, would share responsibility for any attacks against Syrian civilians.

"Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia and Iran who support him killing his own people," Haley tweeted late Monday.

Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people.

— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) June 27, 2017

Assad, meanwhile, is touring Syria. He visited a Russian air base in Latakia, according to images published by the Syrian state-run news agency SANA.

In the photos, Assad can be seen shaking hands with Russian military staffers and climbing into a Russian fighter jet.

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iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- A massive ransomware attack struck computers across Europe Tuesday, affecting major companies in Russia and Ukraine as well as the world’s largest shipping firm, Maersk, according to the affected companies and government sources.

Ukraine appears to have been particularly badly hit, with the country’s government reporting that some of its systems, as well as those of key institutions including banks and telecom providers, had been affected.

The attack comes in the wake of the WannaCry virus in May, which seized control of hundreds of thousands of computers and spread disruption around the world.

As was the case with WannaCry, computers affected by this virus were locked with a statement telling people that they had to pay a ransom to unlock them.

Photos of the screens of computers and ATMs affected by the virus sent to ABC News and other media outlets showed the following message: "If you see this text, then your files are no longer accessible because they have been encrypted. Perhaps you are busy looking for a way to recover your files, but don't waste your time. Nobody can recover your files without our decryption service.”

Russia’s state-owned energy giant, Rosneft, said it had also suffered a major attack, but in a statement on Twitter said it had succeeded in halting it.

Workers at another major Russian oil company, Bashneft, told the Russian newspaper Vedomosti the firm had also been affected.

An analyst at IB-Group told the Russian news site RNS that at least 80 companies had been affected in Russia and Ukraine.

In Ukraine, the virus struck the country’s government administration. The country’s vice prime minister, Pavlo Rozenko, wrote on Facebook that the cabinet's office computers were all locked out.

Ukraine’s central bank said a number of banks in the country had been hit, as well as a state energy company. Some ATMs in the country were blocked and also displayed the lock-out screen. Ordinary Ukrainians reported being unable to use some banking services.

Local Ukrainian media reported that the country's Borispol airport was also attacked, as well as Ukraine’s national rail company.

An advisor to Ukraine’s interior ministry, Anton Gerashchenko, called the cyber-attack the worst in the country’s history in a post on his Facebook page.

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Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A cladding manufacturing company announced Monday that it is discontinuing sales of a type of paneling that was used in London's Grenfell Tower apartment complex, where a devastating fire killed at least 79 people this month.

Arconic said in a statement that it will stop global sales of the aluminum composite material Reynobond PE for use in high-rise applications.

"We believe this is the right decision because of the inconsistency of building codes across the world and issues that have arisen in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy regarding code compliance of cladding systems in the context of buildings’ overall designs," Arconic said.

In its initial statement after the fire, Arconic acknowledged the use of Reynobond PE as a component in the tower's cladding system and expressed condolences to the victims.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said tower block safety tests needed to happen more quickly in England, the BBC reported.

Last week more than 800 public housing apartments in north London were evacuated over fire concerns. The tower blocks were found to be covered in the same cladding that surrounded Grenfell Tower, officials said. The buildings will undergo emergency work over the next three to four weeks.

Police announced on June 24 that the massive fire was caused by a faulty refrigerator and they were considering filing manslaughter charges related to the fire.

It is unclear how many residents were inside the building at the time.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review two lower court's rulings on President Donald Trump's travel ban when it reconvenes in the fall, but until then the president's travel ban faces potential implementation challenges.

The court granted the Trump administration's request for a stay in part, allowing a 90-day ban on foreign nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries and a 120-day halt on the U.S. refugee program to go into effect, with the exception of “foreign national[s] who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

It's a compromise but the travel ban could be difficult to enforce, according to ABC News' legal consultant and law professor Kate Shaw.

Part of Trump's travel ban will presumably go into effect in 72 hours, or on Thursday. At that point, the 90-day and 120-day time periods will start running. However, the Supreme Court isn't back in session to hear arguments on the travel ban until October.

During that time, it will be up to Department of Homeland Security officials and the district courts to interpret which individuals have a "bona fide" connection to the United States.

According to Shaw, the road ahead might include "a lot of litigation over the summer about who exactly has enough of a connection to satisfy the Supreme Court standard."

The government will also proceed with a worldwide review of its vetting procedures, as laid out in the executive order. The Supreme Court agreed with the Ninth Circuit that that review "may proceed promptly, if it not already underway."

The executive order gives the Department of Homeland Security 20 days to review and 50 days for foreign governments to bring their practices in line.

The Supreme Court said the administration should have enough time to “conclude its internal work and provide adequate notice to foreign governments" by the end of 90 days, when the ban on entry from the six countries expires.

The Trump administration could try to make the travel ban permanent after its vetting review.

"The question is whether President Trump re-issues the ban, or some similar order, to keep the dispute live going forward," said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

If Trump doesn't attempt to keep the travel ban alive after the 90-day period, the case could be moot before the Supreme Court hears it on the merits in the fall.

"There's a very good chance that, by the time the justices once again consider this issue, there’s nothing left for them to do," Vladeck said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(MEDELLIN, Colombia) -- At least seven people died when a boat carrying more than 150 passengers capsized while on a sightseeing tour on a reservoir in northwestern Colombia.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos visited the El Peñol-Guatapé reservoir, about 40 miles east of the city of Medellin, and promised authorities would do "everything in their power" to rescue any survivors and promised that searches would continue through the night.

Colombia’s National Disaster Risk Management Unit said Monday night that two were still missing and 158 were rescued.

"Rescue operations will continue as long as the weather conditions allow. There are 25 well-equipped rescue experts working," said the agency's director, Carlos Iván Márquez Pérez.

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3News Ireland(DUBLIN) -- Friday’s forecast in Ireland pushed one TV weather reporter out of the picture.

Deric Hartigan was holding an umbrella and discussing “plenty of scattered showers” when a gust of wind sent him out of his camera’s live shot being broadcast on Ireland’s TV3.

Looking on from the comfort of a dry television studio, “Ireland AM” hosts Sinead Desmond and Mark Cagney could be seen laughing as a stunned Hartigan managed to recover with a smile.

“Welcome to Friday,” Desmond laughed while her co-host Cagney warned, “Don’t mess with Mother Nature.”

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STR/AFP/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- At least 15 people are dead and about 118 missing after a landslide in southwestern China buried a village, according to state media.

Heavy rainfall caused part of a mountain in southwestern China's Sichuan province to collapse early Saturday morning local time, hitting Xinmo village in Maoxian county.

More than 1,000 rescue workers are on the scene searching for survivors under heavy boulders, state media reported. As of Saturday night, 15 bodies were recovered from the debris and the death toll was expected to rise.

Five hours after the landside hit the village, three people from one family were rescued and taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to China's Xinhua news agency.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Structures across the world are bathed in rainbow lighting in honor of LGBT pride.

June is internationally recognized as Pride Month, and many cities are hosting Pride Month marches on Sunday.

From New York City's Empire State Building to Minnesota's Lowry Bridge, cities of all sizes are gushing with pride. And overseas, U.S. embassies and consulates are also paying tribute to LGBT pride.

Here's a roundup of the some of the most colorful structures lighting up their respective cities -- and social media.


Look up tonight at 11PM for our music-to-light show synced to @DeadandCompany’s encore performance at @CitiField! Listen along on @Q1043. pic.twitter.com/62cujJ6isN

— Empire State Bldg (@EmpireStateBldg) June 24, 2017


We're turning the bridge lights rainbow for Houston #PrideWeek starting Sunday! https://t.co/nHfHizDrtk pic.twitter.com/5xo7PVqiv7

— Montrose Houston (@MontroseHTX) June 16, 2017


Tonight, June 24, the Lowry Bridge will be lit rainbow colors for the Twin Cities Pride Festival. #TCPride pic.twitter.com/IGd33GfxXb

— Hennepin County (@Hennepin) June 24, 2017


Something exciting is happening on Christopher St! #Pride2017 pic.twitter.com/02iLMCbETY

— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) June 25, 2017


Trump Hotel In Chicago Lit Up In Rainbow Colors For Pride https://t.co/yUSmuI0wrr via @NewNowNext #gay #LGBT pic.twitter.com/uys5tJR7Q5

— Gayety (@Gayetyco) June 23, 2017


Happy PRIDE Houston! @ghostofHHS @heightsgsa #HeightsHS pic.twitter.com/RDR0mzefAf

— Heights HS Library (@HeightsHSLib) June 24, 2017


This weekend, #OneWTC will be light up rainbow for the 2017 #NYCPrideParade and #prideweek 🏳️‍🌈@NYCPrideMarch @NYCPride pic.twitter.com/OztXjOdVO5

— One World Trade (@OneWTC) June 24, 2017


City Hall dressed in Pride for the weekend. #NYCPride2017 pic.twitter.com/tMrlp605CQ

— City of New York (@nycgov) June 25, 2017


We’re celebrating #LGBTPrideMonth at U.S. Embassy New Delhi by lighting our building in the rainbow colors of #Pride. #PrideMonth pic.twitter.com/PrEzdm5M0d

— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) June 5, 2017

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iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- British Parliament is the latest target of an apparent cyber attack.

Members of parliament are temporarily unable to access e-mail remotely after officials discovered "unauthorized attempts" to access accounts of members of parliament, a Parliamentary spokesman said Saturday.

Government sources told the BBC the attack appeared to have been contained, but officials would still "remain vigilant."

A National Cyber Security Centre spokesperson said they were aware of the incident, and the NCSC is "working around the clock with the UK Parliamentary digital security team to understand what has happened and advise on the necessary mitigating actions.”

It was not immediately clear who was behind the hack and an investigation is ongoing.

One MP tweeted on Saturday: "Sorry no parliamentary email access today - we're under cyber attack from Kim Jong Un, Putin or a kid in his mom's basement or something..."


Sorry no parliamentary email access today - we're under cyber attack from Kim Jong Un, Putin or a kid in his mom's basement or something...

— Henry Smith MP (@HenrySmithUK) June 24, 2017


Last month, the National Health Service in the U.K. was the victim of a major cyber attack. British officials said according to the BBC that they suspected North Korean hackers were behind the incident.

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John van Hassel/Corbis/Getty Images (PARIS) -- When Barack Obama was president, his tight relationship with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was dubbed a political "bromance."

Now, there appears to be a new budding bromance between recently elected French President Emmanuel Macron and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The environmental comrades in arms -- both of whom have been critical of President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement -- shot a brief video selfie together on Friday at the Élysée Palace in Paris, after meeting to discuss all things green.

I was truly honored to meet with President @EmmanuelMacron about how we can work together for a clean energy future. He's a great leader. pic.twitter.com/MSoxjIruup

— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) June 23, 2017

"I'm here with President Macron. We're talking about environmental issues and a green future," Schwarzenegger said in the video before passing the phone to Macron.

"And now we will deliver together to make the planet great again," adds Macron, an obvious nod to Trump's "Make American Great Again" slogan. For the duration of the video, a banner across it reads, "With President Macron, a great leader!"

Macron also retweeted Schwarzenegger's selfie video.

The let's #MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain project takes form. Glad to work on it with @schwarzenegger. https://t.co/BSt2kOEQdv

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 24, 2017

Schwarzenegger told reporters that he and Macron had a "wonderful" one-hour meeting about climate change.

On Sunday, the pair will join former United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, as well as high court judges from several countries, to launch a campaign for a global pact to protect the environment.

Prior to arriving in the French capital, Schwarzenegger delivered a speech on climate change at the Austrian World Summit.

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iStock/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- An Alabama man was robbed at gunpoint and shot early Friday while vacationing with his family in Turks and Caicos, police said.

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force responded to the shooting in the Grace Bay of Providenciales, an island in the Turks and Caicos archipelago, at around 1:43 a.m. local time Friday. The injured tourist, identified as Keven Newman of Alabama, was transported to a local hospital but had to be medically evacuated to the United States for further treatment.

Newman remains in serious condition, police said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the incident, which detectives are treating as a robbery. Police said they are following up on “active" inquiries to identify those responsible.

Newman, who lives in Smiths Station in eastern Alabama, was with his wife and son when he was robbed and shot multiple times, with one of the bullets hitting the main artery to his heart, relatives told ABC affiliate WTVM-TV in Columbus, Georgia.

Since being transported back to the United States, Newman is being treated at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, until he is stable enough to be transferred to a medical center in Atlanta, Georgia, according to WTVM-TV.

Family members were able within hours to raise money to cover the steep $15,000 cost of the medical flight, relatives told WTVM-TV.

Trevor Botting, acting commissioner of police for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, said law enforcement has increased its visible presence in the area where the shooting occurred as well as in other parts of the islands. He urged the public to share any information they may have about the shooting.

"The shooting of the visitor to the Turks and Caicos Islands is condemned, and my team are working tirelessly to identity those responsible and bring them to justice. I know this incident will cause concern in the community," Botting said in a statement Saturday. "We need our communities' eyes and ears to help us keep the islands safe."

"I would ask that people remain alert and vigilant but not alarmed," he added.

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ABCNews.com(Pyongyang, North Korea) -- For nearly a decade, Young Pioneer Tours offered travelers from the United States and other countries the chance to see another side of North Korea. Videos on the Young Pioneer’s YouTube channel feature activities ranging from karaoke bars to arm-wrestling matches.

Dr. Calvin Sun, founder of travel guide company Monsoon Diaries, went to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours in 2011. Four years later, Young Pioneer Tours would lead U.S. college student Otto Warmbier on a 2015 trip to the same Pyongyang hotel. It was at this hotel, North Korean officials said, that Warmbier attempted to steal a propaganda poster, for which he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

Sun recalled finding Young Pioneer with a simple Google search while he was traveling in Asia. “They were just the cheapest option,” Sun said.

With a small group of travelers, Sun flew by plane to Pyongyang where they stayed for four nights at the Yanggakdo Hotel, the primary hotel for international tourists.

The hotel offers amenities ranging from bowling and billiards to gambling and bars. After noticing that the hotel’s elevator did not list a fifth floor, Sun and his travel companions found the “hidden” floor via the stairwell and discovered a number of hand-painted propaganda wall hangings.

“We were very nervous in terms of, 'Are we supposed to be here, or are we not supposed to be here?'” he recalled.

Sun said that he was unfamiliar with the hotel hallway that appeared in the surveillance tape released by North Korean officials allegedly showing Warmbier’s removing a poster from the wall.

Warmbier died Monday in Cincinnati, Ohio, just days after arriving from North Korea in what U.S. doctors described as a state of unresponsive wakefulness.

As a result, China-based Young Pioneer Tours said it will no longer take Americans to North Korea but will continue the tours for others.

“The devastating loss of Otto Warmbier's life has led us to reconsider our position on accepting American tourists,” the company said on its website. “There had not been any previous detainment in North Korea that has ended with such tragic finality and we have been struggling to process the result. Now, the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high.”

Said Dr. Sun: “Hearing about what happened is devastating to us as travelers.”

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DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- More than 800 public housing apartments in London are set to be evacuated over fire concerns in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Towers blaze that killed at least 79 people.

The tower blocks, located in the Camden area of north London, are covered in the same cladding that surrounded Grenfell Tower, officials said. The buildings, which failed safety tests, will undergo emergency work over the next three to four weeks.

The Camden council announced the decision late Friday.

"As a result of ongoing checks the decision has been taken to decant residents from all five tower blocks at the Chalcots estate," the council said in a statement.

Residents will be provided with temporary accommodations while the work is completed, and are being encouraged to stay with family and friends, if possible.

"Camden council is absolutely determined to ensure that our residents are safe, and we have promised them that we will work with them, continue to act swiftly and be open and transparent," said Georgia Gould, leader of Camden council.

A national operation to identify buildings with cladding similar to Grenfell Towers has caused local authorities to send samples for independent tests, the BBC reported.

Samples from at least 14 high-rise buildings in London and across England have already been found to be combustible.

Death toll from London high-rise fire climbs to 30; victims may never be identified, police say

A faulty refrigerator is being blamed for the cause of the devastating Grenfell fire, police said Friday. Authorities are still trying to establish how the fire spread so quickly.

Police also announced Friday that they are considering filing manslaughter charges related to the fire.

It is unclear how many residents were inside the building at the time of the June 14 blaze, which in addition to the dozens of fatalities injured at least 74 people.

Grenfell Towers was built in 1974 and contained 120 apartments, according to its management company, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As his body is laid to rest in his Ohio hometown, the shock of Otto Warmbier’s death is now giving way to anger -- and the Trump administration is actively weighing how to respond.

“It's a total disgrace what happened to Otto," President Trump told reporters Tuesday. "That should never, ever be allowed to happen. It’s a brutal regime, and we’ll be able to handle it.”

Warmbier was held for nearly a year-and-a-half by North Korea, much of that time while in a coma, according to the reclusive country's authoritarian regime. The details of his detention, especially how he ended up in that medical condition, are still unknown.

But the White House -- while happy to have returned Warmbier to his family -- is now deciding if and how it should respond to his death as it aims to “hold North Korea accountable for [his] unjust imprisonment,” according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Beyond demanding a full account of what happened to Warmbier, the U.S. has few options to respond -- although there are three other U.S. citizens being detained in the country, and any action has to weigh their safety and concerns of a backlash against them.


Tillerson is actively considering whether to ban U.S. travel to North Korea, the State Department said Tuesday.

"The Secretary has the authority to do it," said spokesperson Heather Nauert. "He just has not come to a conclusion about how this would potentially work, but we’re considering it."

The U.S. strongly discourages travel to North Korea, with a stern travel warning but as of yet no ban. Without diplomatic ties in the country, the government cannot reach Americans held there, except through its protecting power Sweden. And North Korea has a history of using detainees from America or other countries as pawns in negotiations.

“Given the danger to United States citizens in the country, it is time to take the unusual step of imposing a ban,” former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Christopher Hill wrote in an editorial Wednesday. Hill led the U.S. delegation to North Korea nuclear talks under President George W. Bush.

There are restrictions on economic activity with North Korea, through a system of sanctions, and an all-out ban is not without precedent. Previously, the U.S. government has banned travel to countries that were perceived to be too dangerous, including Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war and Libya during some of the Moammar Gadhafi years.

The number of Americans in North Korea is difficult to track, but the country’s only private university employs around 40 U.S. citizens, many dual nationals. In addition, anywhere between 800 and 1,250 American tourists visit the country a year, although that number will likely decline after Warmbier’s death, especially as tour companies like Young Pioneer Tours, which Warmbier used, have canceled all future trips for Americans.


The Trump administration may also try to isolate North Korea even more, pressuring its neighbors and economic partners to cut ties.

It’s part of the current strategy to discourage the regime from pursuing its nuclear and missile programs, and according to the acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, it’s yielded some successes so far.

“We’ve seen a lot of different countries step up and take action on the pressure campaign,” Susan Thornton told reporters Monday.

According to Thornton, those actions include halting visas to North Korean laborers, whose wages usually go straight to the regime; denying landing rights and refueling privileges to North Korea’s national airline; expelling and reducing North Korea’s diplomatic presence in the countries; and interdicting shipments of arms and other sanctioned materials.


The administration might also be considering new sanctions against North Korea or third-party entities that do business with the regime, including Chinese companies.

Nauert has declined to say if sanctions are among the considerations, saying only, “The actions that we may or may not take are still being contemplated here, so it’s just too early to say exactly what we’re going to do just yet.”

But even before Warmbier’s death, members of Congress were pushing a new sanctions report on Tillerson last week when he testified on Capitol Hill. The report by the nonprofit C4ADS lays out where the vulnerabilities are in North Korea’s financial networks and supply chains and how new sanctions could disrupt them and bring the regime to heel.

"The next step should be to sanction the Chinese financiers and traders who sustain Kim Jong Un," the Wall Street Journal editorial board urged Thursday. "The U.S. and its allies have to use every sanction and other tool available to prevent the Kim regime from doing to millions what it did to Otto Warmbier."

As the administration reviews, it seems sanctions would likely have to wait. After the U.S.-China summit Wednesday, Tillerson said that China reaffirmed its commitment to fully implement all United Nations Security Council sanctions, so the White House may give China some time to see that through first.


The Trump administration has said that all military options are on the table with regards to North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. But the reality is that the impact of military options would be limited and the threat of escalating into an all-out war makes it the least likely of the administration’s options, especially for Warmbier’s death.

Pre-emptive military strikes would likely focus on North Korea's facilities for launching or producing ballistic missiles or its nuclear facilities.

North Korea's nuclear facility at Yongbyon is well-known, but striking it could cause an environmental disaster. Easier targets would be North Korea's missile facilities like the Sohae Satellite Launching Station on the country's northwest coast that has become a center of activity for the country's long-range missile program.

But the greater threat from North Korea is posed by its new medium- and intermediate-range mobile systems that are hard to track by overhead satellites and can be launched on short notice.

If the U.S. were to take military action, potential targets could be North Korea's airfields in Hwangju, Kusong, and Wonsan provinces that have been used over the past year to test new longer-range missiles.

But pre-emptive strikes could lead North Korea to respond militarily, a prospect that carries the risk of risk of hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties.

The majority of North Korea’s million-man army is based just north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that is the border with South Korea. And long-range North Korean artillery along the DMZ can easily reach Seoul, South Korea’s capital.

That makes the scenario of a pre-emptive U.S. military strike a risky one and the least likely option available to the Trump administration.

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