Senate committee backs new sanctions targeting North Korea

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate committee has unanimously approved legislation that imposes sanctions on Chinese banks and other financial institutions if they’re found to be helping North Korea evade existing penalties from the U.S. and U.N. Security Council.

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee voted 23-0 to pass the bill named for Otto Warmbier (WARM’-beer). He’s the American college student who was imprisoned by North Korea for more than a year, and returned home in June with brain damage and died days later.

The legislation also would punish companies that import coal, iron, lead and seafood products from North Korea. Those goods are estimated to be worth more than $1 billion, about one-third of the North’s estimated $3 billion in exports in 2016.

The bill heads to the full Senate.

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