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US House approves bill to sanction North Korea following nuclear test

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] on Tuesday approved [press release] legislation that would increase sanctions against North Korea for its continuation of nuclear testing. The Foreign Affairs Committee [official website] amended the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act [HR 757, PDF] to include ways to prevent North Kore from funding its nuclear program. The 418-2 vote [official summary] comes after reports that North Korea successfully tested [NYT report] a hydrogen bomb despite international pressure to limit its non-energy nuclear activity. The sanctions include the seizure of assets and limits to commerce of both North Korea and any entity caught supplying nuclear supplies to the country. According to the act, the sanctions would be mandated against "persons that have materially contributed to North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development or engaged in other destructive activities, including importing or exporting related WMD [material] into North Korea, or providing training to, or advising on, their weapons programs." The bill now waits approval from the Senate.

Nuclear power in North Korea is cause for international concern due to the country's human rights record and instability. In November Japan and the EU circulated [JURIST report] a draft UN resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses and encouraging the UN Security Council to refer the country to the International Criminal Court [official website], noting reports of torture, limits on freedom of mobility, restrictions on freedom of speech, restrictions on freedom of religion, privacy infringement, arbitrary imprisonment, prison camps and more. UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea Marzuki Darusman expressed deep concerns [JURIST report] regarding human rights violations in the country just a month earlier. In November 2014 Darusman said that there is enough evidence to hold Kim Jong-un responsible for "massive" human rights atrocities [JURIST report] committed in the country. In response to these concerns, the UN in June opened a new office [JURIST report] in Seoul to specifically monitor human rights in North Korea.

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