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House approves bill to toughen NKorea sanctions

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News,Nation

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has passed a bill to toughen sanctions against North Korea and restrict its access to hard currency.

The bill passed Monday would empower President Barack Obama to target foreign banks that facilitate the North Korean government's development and proliferation of weapons technology, arms trading and imports of luxury goods by barring them from the U.S. financial system.

The committee's Republican chairman, Rep. Ed Royce of California, has likened the bill to sanctions the U.S. imposed against a Macau-based bank in 2005 but later lifted to facilitate nuclear talks with Pyongyang (pyuhng-yahng).

The legislation's prospects remain uncertain. It must also pass the Senate and then be signed by the president.

Such a law would be unpopular with Beijing as it could impact Chinese banks that work with North Korea.

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