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U.S. House panel OKs bill on sanctions against N. Korea

All Headlines 04:34 May 30, 2014

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, May 29 (Yonhap) -- A key U.S. House committee approved a bill Thursday calling for tougher sanctions on the North Korean regime and holding it accountable for human rights abuses there.

The legislation, titled the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, strengthens existing sanctions against the communist nation by prohibiting its access to critical resources such as hard currency and other goods, according to the panel.

H.R. 1771 was introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the committee, a year ago.

"It is time for Congress to lead by providing a clear legislative framework for sanctions to deprive Kim Jong-un of his ability to build nuclear weapons and to repress and abuse the North Korean people," Royce said. "The‘North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act' seeks to apply the same type of pressure the Treasury Department successfully applied in 2005, when it targeted a small bank in Macao that was complicit in Pyongyang's counterfeiting."

The legislation denies sanctioned North Koreans and their enablers access to all U.S. property and the U.S. financial system, the committee said in a press release.

It also provides the U.S. government "the tools necessary to sanction third-country persons and banks that facilitate North Korean proliferation, smuggling, money laundering, and human rights abuses," it added.

Although the bill contains far-reaching measures to sanction North Korea, it is widely viewed as symbolic since Pyongyang is already subject to a tough set of U.N. sanctions.

It remains unclear whether or when the legislation will be endorsed on the House floor and the Senate as the U.S. political community braces for mid-term elections.

lcd@yna.co.kr

leechidong@gmail.com
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