WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- President Obama is to sign a comprehensive North Korea sanctions bill that can blacklist entities for assisting Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program or abetting its human rights violations.
The bipartisan bill that was passed near unanimously in Congress is to be signed soon, the White House said Wednesday.
The legislation, H.R. 757, passed both the Senate and the House last Friday, not long after North Korea launched an "earth observation satellite" in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and conducting its fourth nuclear test in January.
The United States, South Korea and Japan have condemned the tests.
"The administration is deeply concerned about North Korea's actions and their recent provocations. And I can confirm that the president does plan to sign H.R.757, which includes sanctions measures against North Korea and will serve to increase pressure on North Korea," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
Earnest said the exact time of the signing is yet to be determined, but that the White House's "plan is to sign it."
Yonhap reported the bill could be the toughest legislation against the North to pass in Congress. It includes penalties for individuals and entities that support North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development, facilitate its widespread human rights abuses, and provide a means for Pyongyang to launch cyberattacks.
The United States and China, however, are still in the middle of negotiations over a new U.N. Security Council resolution that could introduce strong sanctions. China has been cautious about passing legislation that could wreck Pyongyang's economy, CBS reported.
South Korea has recently taken bold moves against the North, triggering uproar in Seoul over a decision to shutdown the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a multimillion-dollar manufacturing center that employed North Korean labor managed by South Korean enterprises.
The shutdown has led to recriminations between opposing politicians in Seoul.