Senate approves sanctions after North Korea nuke, missile tests

The Senate Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that would push President Obama into more aggressive sanctions against North Korea in response to the nation's recent weapons testing.

The bill passed unanimously, 96-0, shortly after North Korea reported that it had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb and deployed a long-range rocket.

The Senate vote follows testimony Tuesday from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea had restarted a plutonium reactor and is vying to develop a long-range nuclear missile.

The Senate bill would sanction individuals who aide in the development of North Korea's nuclear program, and impose mandatory sanctions on cybercriminals as well as officials involved in censorship and human rights abuses, according to Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., a co-author of the bill.

"If the president will not step up to the plate and take these threats seriously, the American people entrusts the United States Senate to address them and we will do so today on a bipartisan basis," said Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Republicans used debate time on the bill to criticize Obama for a weak foreign policy stance, but Democrats moved to neutralize the debate.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., a frequent critic of the Obama administration on foreign policy matters, pointed out that "the standard response from Democratic and Republican administrations alike has been to dismiss the seriousness of the threat," from North Korea.

Menendez said the nation now has enough fissile material to build a dozen nuclear weapons.

Source: Washington Examiner