The US Government has introduced a ban on its citizens from visiting North Korea as tourists, provoked by a number of recent actions by Pyongyang.
Anti-Pyongyang feeling is strife in the United States in the wake of ballistic missile tests targeting the country, and the death of American student Otto Warmbier in June, a few days after North Korea released him in a coma after 18 months of captivity.
Intelligence assessments indicate that North Korea could have a reliable ICBM capable of reaching the US by 2018.
The Secretary of State announced Wednesday that there is imminent danger to physical safety of U.S. travelers in North Korea.
Following this, the Department of State declared that all U.S. passports are invalid for travel to North Korea “unless specially validated for such travel.”
The implementation of the passport restriction will become effective thirty days later, i.e., on September 1.
In a Travel Alert issued Wednesday, the State Department said the Secretary has authorized the restriction due to the serious and mounting risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. citizens under North Korea’s system of law enforcement.
Persons who wish to travel to North Korea on a U.S. passport must obtain a special passport validation, which will be granted only under very limited circumstances.
Persons currently in North Korea on a U.S. passport have been advised to depart the country before September 1.
China-based travel agencies that take Americans on conducted tours in North Korea were already informed of the ban.
From next month, it will be illegal for any US national traveling to the reclusive Communist country as a tourist, and their passport will be invalidated.
After the death of Warmbier, Young Pioneer Tours, which organized his trip to North Korea in December 2015, said it would no longer take US citizens to the country.
A bipartisan bill proposing tight restrictions on travel to North Korea, and banning tourists to that country, was introduced in the Congress in May citing the risk of U.S. citizens being detained there for political reasons.
Three U.S. citizens remain imprisoned currently in North Korea. Several American tourists continue to visit North Korea ignoring the State Department’s strong warning against traveling to a country deemed as dangerous to them.
by RTT Staff Writer
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