North Korea sends protest to US Congress over sanctions

Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva

The protest was lodged by the recently revived Foreign Affairs Committee of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, which said the U.S. House of Representatives was "obsessed" with a sense of disapproval and warned it of dire consequences.

"As the U.S. House of Representatives enacts more and more of these reckless hostile laws, the DPRK's efforts to strengthen nuclear deterrents will gather greater pace, beyond anyone's imagination", the committee said, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The maneuvers, which also involve Japan and the United Kingdom, are meant to show support for the free passage of vessels in global waters amid concerns China may restrict access to the South China Sea.

The vote, 419-1, targeted North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes as well as the country's shipping industry and use of alleged slave labour. "Sanctions will be tightened if North Korea continues these activities", Sherman said in a statement.

"The U.S. House of Representatives should think twice", the committee wrote.

But it's rare to hear such direct protests from North Korea to the U.S. Congress. Pyongyang sent letters to the United States in 1984 calling for the opening of three-way talks between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington.

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The move to restart the committee has been seen as an attempt to create a "window" for contacts with the outside world - Seoul and Washington in particular.

Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have risen in recent weeks.

Choe was in Norway for so-called Track Two talks with former US government officials, according to Japanese media, the latest in a series of such meetings. This year's wargames were the biggest ever, and reportedly included training for precision strikes and assaults meant to take out Kim Jong Un and his top lieutenants.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests in defiance of United Nations and US sanctions and is also developing long-range missiles to deliver atomic weapons. On Friday, its Central Public Prosecutor's Office issued a statement suggesting the United States and South Korea are harboring suspects and should extradite them to the North immediately.

The Senate will take it up next and will need to approve the proposals before they can be implemented. Goods produced by North Korean labor would be barred from entering the US market under the bill.

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