Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation Friday that hits North Korea with more stringent sanctions for refusing to stop its nuclear weapons program.
Republicans and Democrats joined together to overwhelmingly approve the bill by a vote of 408-2 less than a week after North Korea launched a rocket carrying a satellite into space. Pyongyang conducted its fourth underground nuclear test last month. Both actions sparked worldwide condemnation and heightened fears that the reclusive Asian nation is moving steadily toward assembling an atomic arsenal.
The White House has signaled its support for the bill, but has not issued a detailed assessment of the legislation. Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Thursday the Obama administration and Congress are “in the same space” and agree on the need for increased sanctions.
The Senate passed the legislation earlier this week.
The expanded sanctions are intended to starve North Korea of the money it needs for the development of miniaturized nuclear warheads and the long-range missiles required to deliver them.
The legislation also authorizes $50 million over the next five years to transmit radio broadcasts into North Korea, purchase communications equipment and support humanitarian assistance programs.
Rep. Ed Royce of California, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Friday that it’s time for the United States to stand with South Korea and Japan. Both countries already are responding to North Korea’s aggression, Royce said, who called on Russia and China to “follow suit.”
Japan announced new sanctions Wednesday that include expanded restrictions on travel between the two countries and a complete ban on visits by North Korean ships to Japan.