WASHINGTON – As part of the United States’ efforts to put an end to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, the Senate unanimously approved on Wednesday severe penalties with the purpose of limiting Pyongyang’s ability to cover the costs of warheads and missiles.

The Senate’s bill is targeting those who are known for doing business with North Korea to contribute to its nuclear weapons program. The legislation also approved $50 million to broadcast messages directly to people in the isolated and impoverished country.

Photo The Guardian
Photo The Guardian

Co-sponsor of the bill Senator Cory Gardner, a first-term Republican from Colorado, remarked the move does not leave the sanctions up to President Obama’s discretion, but rather directly mandates the sanctions and dictates the first measures to punish North Korea for violating the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure.

“It’s the first of its kind, and I believe that that will be a model for sanctions against other cyber-perpetrators around the globe,” Sen. Gardner said.

The legislation came less than a week after North Korea launched a satellite, which was seen by the international community as a provocation and a key step forward the development of Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities.

Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida returned to Washington for the vote, in spite of being busy in their Republican presidential nominations. Senator Bernie Sanders, who defeated Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire caucuses, could not be there for the vote but put out a supportive statement shortly beforehand.

The North Korean government last month conducted its fourth nuclear test in recent years, violating regulations from the United Nations Security Council. The United States, South Korea and others have been clearing up the way to impose stricter measures against the country, but China, North Korea’s closest ally, insists on the need for dialogue.

The White House passed a similar bill last month and is likely to consider the Senate measure. The Obama administration has not yet supported the language, but has not publicly objected it neither.

Republicans consider President Obama has not done enough against the North Korean provocations. Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Ben Cardin said the Wednesday’s bill represents what Congress needs to do and remarked the urgent need for the United States to stand up to North Korea’s activities.

Source: New York Times