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US lawmakers approve broader sanctions against North Korea after nuclear test

The House of Representatives has voted almost unanimously to implement further sanctions against Pyongyang. The bill will now move on to the Senate for approval.

Days after North Korea said it tested a nuclear weapon, the House of Representatives voted almost unanimously to approve a bill broadening sanctions against the country.

The North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act was introduced in early 2015 but Tuesday's vote came in response to the nuclear test. It seeks to constrain Pyongyang financially, so that it will not be able to obtain materials needed to build up an arsenal of nuclear weapons.

"What we are concerned about here is the miniaturization of nuclear warheads that fit onto its most reliable missiles," said Representative Ed Royce, Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and sponsor of the bill.

Congress takes the lead

The move can be seen largely as an effort by the Republican-held Congress to respond to foreign threats it accuses the Obama Administration of ignoring. However, the White House told the Associated Press it doesn't oppose the bill, which passed 418-2 and will move on to the Senate.

According to Royce, the bill reflects a strategy utilized by the Treasury Department against Pyongyang a year ago.

North Korea said it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb last week, sparking outrage around the world. The UN Security Council is also considering new measures against Pyongyang in response to the action.

blc/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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