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US Congress passes bills, blasting NK nuke test

Posted February. 16, 2013 08:47,   


As the United Nations and the U.S. are agonizing over concrete measures to impose sanctions on North Korea for its third nuclear test, the U.S. Congress has quickly passed bills sanctioning North Korea as well as a resolution condemning Pyongyang.

The U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday approved the North Korea Nonproliferation and Accountability Act of 2013, which was proposed by chairman Robert Menendez (Democrat-N.J.) the previous day. The bill stipulates that the Obama administration exert all of its military and diplomatic efforts to prevent the worsening of nuclear development, missile programs and human rights situation of North Korea.

“The United States Government should seek a new round of United Nations Security Council sanctions, including the public identification of all North Korean and foreign banks, business, and government agencies suspected of violating United Nations Security Council resolutions, and implementing necessary measures to ensure enforcement of such sanctions,” the bill read.

In addition, the bill urges U.N. member states to strengthen surveillance of their domestic transactions with North Korea and ban them from transporting or transshipping cargo related to Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs.

But a clause was added to the bill in the review process saying the bill should not be interpreted as approving a declaration of war or the use of military force against the North. Co-sponsored by many influential lawmakers including senators Barbara Boxer (Democrat-Calif.) and Marco Rubio (Republican-Fla.), the bill has a high chance of being passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

On the same day, Ed Royce (Republican-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also introduced a resolution condemning North Korea for its latest nuclear experiment and continued provocations. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a news conference before having his first talks with new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying, “I encourage the Security Council to act with unity and to take appropriate measures as soon as possible.”

South Korea is speeding up discussion of imposing sanctions on North Korea. Seoul plans to focus on seeking sanctions through the U.N. Security Council but is also said to be planning to implement its own sanctions before the new administration is launched Feb. 25 considering the time that might be required for the council to reach a conclusion. South Korean government has been discussing imposing its own sanctions on North Korea`s vessels and financial transactions with the U.S. and Japan since Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket in December last year.

Gen. Jung Seung-jo, chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, had a 40-minute phone conversation with U.S. counterpart Martin Dempsey Friday on a bilateral response to North Korea’s provocation. The two men agreed to jointly respond to a variety of security threats posed by the North’s nuclear test.