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U.S. Lawmakers Vote to Tighten Sanctions on North Korea

02/12/2016 | 01:12pm US/Eastern
By Kristina Peterson 

WASHINGTON--The House of Representatives on Friday passed legislation tightening sanctions on North Korea in a bid to increase economic pressure on the country after recent tests fueled concerns over its nuclear capabilities.

The 408-2 vote in the House sends the bill to the White House, where President Barack Obama is expected to sign it. The Senate approved the legislation earlier this week in a unanimous 96-0 vote.

The bill would impose new sanctions on companies and individuals involved in North Korea's nuclear-weapons program and cyberwarfare operations. It would also target anyone doing business with those entities-- including Chinese firms--in an effort to inflict serious economic consequences for supporting North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

"We need to keep tightening the screws" on North Korea, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R., Calif.) told reporters Friday. "This acceleration of the weapons program of North Korea--made possible by the illicit activity North Korea is involved in--that has to be shut down."

The two dissenters were GOP Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky. Mr. Massie voted against the bill because he believes it expands the president's executive authority and legitimizes the United Nations, which he believes should be dissolved, according to his spokesman.

Imposing new sanctions on North Korea had broad bipartisan support in Congress even before North Korea said last weekend that it had put a satellite into space from a multistage rocket. The United Nations Security Council said Sunday that the rocket launch was a threat to world security and a clear violation of U.N. resolutions banning North Korea from developing its nuclear program.

The U.S. and other nations view North Korea's satellite program as covert testing of missiles because of the similarities between the launching of a satellite and the firing of a warhead at a target.

Write to Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com

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