The US Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously (96-0) for economic sanctions on North Korea after it test a nuclear weapon and launched a rocket despite UN sanctions. The bill also addressed other activities North Korea is accused of, such as cyberattacks and human rights abuses.
The bipartisan bill by Democrat Senator Bob Menendez and Republican Senator Cory Gardner seeks to plug finances going into the country to stop it from fortifying its nuclear arsenal.
The bill also looks at spending $50 million to broadcast radio messages into the country and support humanitarian assistance programmes.
Gardner echoed Menendez in condemning US President Barack Obama's method of "strategic patience" when dealing with North Korea.
"It's time to take North Korea seriously," ABC News quoted Menendez as saying.
"Well, four nuclear tests, three Kims, two violations of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSC) and one attempt by North Korea to transfer nuclear technology to Syria later — it is clearly time for the United States to start taking the North Korea challenge seriously," CNN quoted Menendez as saying.
The legislation will also subject foreign countries aiding North Korea in arms trade to punitive measures by cutting foreign funding.
Meanwhile, South Korea decided to stop work at the last remaining joint project, Kaesong industrial park, on Wednesday with its neighbouring "rogue" country. It accused Pyongyang of using Seoul's investment to fuel its nuclear and missile programme.
North Korea recently launched a satellite, flouting UNSC sanctions against it, which subsequently flew over the Super Bowl stadium in California. Earlier, the country had said it had successfully tested a Hydrogen bomb, which drew ire from the international community against the inaccessible nation. The country has restarted a plutonium reactor and has expanded its uranium enrichment facility, reports said.