It Will Soon Be Illegal to Use US Passports to Enter One Country

New rule regarding North Korea expected to be unveiled soon
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 21, 2017 9:30 AM CDT
It Will Soon Be Illegal to Use US Passports to Enter One Country
A 2016 file photo of American student Otto Warmbier. He died after being returned to the US from North Korea in a coma.   (Kim Kwang Hyon)

The Trump administration will ban American citizens from traveling to North Korea following the death of university student Otto Warmbier, reports the AP. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided to impose a "geographic travel restriction" for North Korea, which would make it illegal to use US passports to enter the country, say US officials. Since 1967, such bans have been imposed intermittently on countries such as Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Cuba, and North Vietnam. But the US doesn't currently prohibit its passports from being used to travel to any countries, even though financial restrictions limit US travel to Cuba and elsewhere. If a passport ban were placed on North Korea, an American who violated it could face a fine and up to 10 years in prison for a first offense.

The officials say the restriction will go into effect 30 days after a notice is published in the Federal Register, but it was not immediately clear when that would be. They were not authorized to publicly discuss the decision before it is announced and spoke on condition of anonymity. However, two tour operators that organize group trips to North Korea say they had already been informed of the decision. It isn't clear how many Americans the move will impact, as figures about how many Americans go to North Korea are difficult for even the US government to obtain. Americans who venture there typically travel from China, where several tour groups market trips to adventure-seekers. (Hawaii is rolling out a civil-preparedness campaign warning about a possible nuclear strike by the North.)

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