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US Senate unanimously passes bill to expand sanctions on DPRK

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-02-11 10:13

US Senate unanimously passes bill to expand sanctions on DPRK

Democratic People's Republic of Korea launches a long range rocket launched into the air in this file still image taken from KRT video footage, released by Yonhap on February 7, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - The US Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed the legislation to widen harsher sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in response to its recent nuclear test and missile launch.

The Senate legislation expands and tightens enforcement of sanctions against DPRK's nuclear and ballistic missile development and other destructive activities, said Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, a co-sponsor of the bill.

The bill would require US President Barack Obama to sanction anyone involved with DPRK's nuclear weapons program, arms-related materials, luxury goods, human rights abuses, activities that negatively impact cybersecurity and the use of coal or metals in any of the activities.

Penalties would include the seizure of assets, visa bans and denial of government contracts.

"It ... leaves no doubt about our determination to neutralize any threat with robust, realistic diplomacy to reach the clear goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula," said Menendez. "It is time now for the United States to take the North Korea challenge seriously."

The move comes after the DPRK said it had launched a Kwangmyongsong-4 Earth observation satellite into orbit Sunday and last month tested what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb.

The US has condemned the DPRK's "destabilizing and provocative" actions and vowed to "take all necessary steps to defend ourselves and our allies."

On Jan. 12, US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation to impose harsher sanctions against the DPRK in response to its nuclear test.

US intelligence chief James Clapper told lawmakers Tuesday that the DPRK has expanded a uranium enrichment facility and restarted a plutonium production reactor.

The DPRK's nuclear weapons and missile programs will "continue to pose a serious threat to US interests and to the security environment in East Asia in 2016," Clapper said.

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