One month after the
death of U.S. citizen Otto Warmbier and amid high tensions between the U.S. and
North Korea, the State Department on Friday authorized a North Korea travel ban.
The State Department said
it took action "due to safety and security concerns."
A follow-up tweet stated
that "U.S. citizens seeking to travel to North Korea for humanitarian or
other purposes may apply for a special validation passport."
spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that once the travel ban is in place, "U.S.
passports will be invalid for travel to, through and in North Korea, and
individuals will be required to obtain a passport with a special validation in
order to travel to or within North Korea."
She added that the ban
is being implemented due to "mounting concerns over the serious risk of
arrest and long-term detention under North Korea's system of law enforcement."
The State Department is
expected to publish a notice in the Federal Register next week, after which it
should take approximately 30 days for the restriction to go into effect.
The 22-year-old Warmbier
was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for subversion after attempting to
remove a propaganda poster from a hotel. After being held for more than 17
months, he was released by North Korea in a coma last month and died soon after
his return to the U.S.
Following his death, the
Trump administration was said to be considering banning U.S. citizens from
traveling to North Korea.
Further adding to the
tensions, North Korea earlier this month test-launched an intercontinental