UPDATE : 2018.10.18 THU 16:30
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U.S. House passes N.K. sanctions bill honoring late detainee

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that tightens sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear weapons and honors an American citizen who died after being held by the regime.

The bill, which was renamed the "Otto Warmbier North Korea Nuclear Sanctions Act" after the 22-year-old University of Virginia student, aims to cut off North Korea's links to the global financial system.

It calls on the Secretary of the Treasury to freeze the U.S.-based accounts of foreign financial institutions and firms that conduct business with North Korea, including by hiring North Korean workers overseas.

The bill passed 415-2 following its unanimous adoption by the House Financial Services Committee earlier this month.

"I do want it noted that the North Korean sanction legislation -- we have changed the name," Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told reporters ahead of the vote. "We are going to honor Otto Warmbier ... who was brutalized and tortured by the Kim regime."

North Korea has come under growing sanctions for its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

In recent months the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted two sanctions resolutions that aim to slash the regime's US$3 billion annual export revenue by a third and cap its imports of oil.

The sanctions are expected to deprive Pyongyang of the means to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities and force it to come to the table for denuclearization talks.

Warmbier died in June, shortly after returning home in a coma. He was detained in Pyongyang for 17 months after being arrested on charges of trying to steal a political propaganda poster from a hotel during a visit to the country last year.

This AP photo shows Otto Warmbier (C) being taken to a Pyongyang court in March 2016. (Yonhap)

Hwi Won  edt@koreapost.com

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