US to ban travel to North Korea

AFP
The United States has set a September 1 start date for a ban prohibiting its citizens traveling to North Korea.
AFP

The United States has set a September 1 start date for a ban prohibiting its citizens traveling to North Korea.

“The Department of State has determined that the serious risk to United States nationals of arrest and long-term detention represents imminent danger to the physical safety of United States nationals traveling to and within the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” read the restriction as it appeared in the US government’s Federal Register yesterday.

“All United States passports are declared invalid for travel to, in, or through the DPRK unless specially validated for such travel,” it added.

An exemption was noted for approved humanitarian travel and for journalists in some circumstances. The ban is to remain in effect for a year, unless it is revoked sooner by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The travel ban was first announced last month in the wake of the death of American student Otto Warmbier who fell into a coma after being imprisoned by Pyongyang during a tourist visit.

Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia student, died in June after being held for more than a year on charges of stealing a propaganda poster from a North Korean hotel. He had been sent home in a coma that later proved fatal.

His death added to already high tensions in the region over North Korea’s weapons ambitions, culminating in two test launches by Pyongyang in recent weeks of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The US military yesterday conducted a test of an unarmed ICBM, officials said.

“While not a response to recent North Korean actions, the test demonstrates that the United States’ nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to be able to deter, detect and defend against attacks on the United States and its allies,” Air Force Global Strike Command said.

North Korea has alarmed the international community by the pace and progress of its missile development program.

Its first ICBM test showed the rocket had the potential to hit Alaska. 

The second flew even longer, with some experts suggesting New York could be in range.


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