updated 7/11/2006 12:51:15 PM ET 2006-07-11T16:51:15

The Senate's Republican leader said Tuesday he will push legislation to add North Korea to a nonproliferation act that currently outlines sanctions against foreign individuals who supply weapons technology to Iran and Syria.

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"The time has come for the United States to treat transfers of these items to North Korea no less seriously than we already treat transfers of these items to Iran and Syria," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said in a statement.

North Korea last week test-fired seven missiles, apparently including a long-range one that potentially could reach the United States. The Bush administration said the tests were a provocation that escalated tensions in the region and has backed proposals for international sanctions against the Pyongyang regime.

The nonproliferation act, which was passed in 2000, originally applied only to Iran. It was expanded to include Syria in 2005.

Under the measure, the president can impose sanctions on any foreign person who transfers goods and technologies to those countries that contribute to their ability to produce missiles, nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. Foreign persons who acquire such items from those countries are also subject to sanctions.

The sanctions can include a ban on U.S. government procurement from such persons or the issuance of U.S. export licenses to those persons.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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