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July 16
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US Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Thursday introduced a bill to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism after President Vladimir Putin signed a defense agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reports UPI.

Blumenthal at a press briefing announcing the bill held up a photo of Putin's visit to North Korea, which is already a US-designated state sponsor of terrorism.

"This picture says it all, Russia deserves to be—in fact it's deeply earned—the designation to be a state sponsor of terrorism," Blumenthal said.

The bill, known as the Designating the Russian Federation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism Act, would unlock a new host of sanctions against Russia, restrict any US-based foreign aid and allow US nationals to sue Russia for offenses such as torture, hostage-taking and extrajudicial killing.

Putin met Kim in North Korea on Wednesday to sign a mutual defense agreement guaranteeing each other's support in the event of a war.

Graham, in urging Senate leaders to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, said the agreement implies Russia could provide nuclear expertise to North Korea.

"Increasing the nuclear capability of somebody already on the state sponsor of terrorism list should just be an automatic inclusion of the country in question," Graham said.

Iran, Cuba, and Syria are the only other countries the US State Department has designated as state sponsors of terrorism.

Graham added that the passage of this bill would "change the momentum in Ukraine overnight" and send the message that countries that want to do business with Russia do so "at their own peril."

The designation “state sponsor of terror” would add to a mountain of economic sanctions the United States and western nations have leveled against Russia.

Blumenthal on Thursday said he "strongly supports" the resolution, but it is no substitute for continuing military support for Ukraine.

The two senators did not give a timeline for when the bill would reach the Senate floor, but they said they were open to forcing the vote if necessary.

Blumenthal said he has discussed the bill with the Biden administration, and that the White House is "sympathetic to the goal," but that there is some "differences of approach."

Graham argued the designation for Russia is "rational" and "earned."

"Now is the moment above all other moments," he said. "So I would urge the administration, given what Putin has done yesterday, let's go all-in in designating his regime for what it is."

The European Parliament declared Russia a state sponsor of terrorism in 2022.

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