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."

State Department 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 ballistic missile.


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