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Political Squabbling Stalls South Korea Anti-Nuclear Terrorism Bill

South Korea's president on Tuesday criticized lawmakers for failing to approve an anti-nuclear terrorism bill, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

The legislation would broaden the definition of atomic-related crimes and increase punishments for them. South Korea, at the 2012 global Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, committed to ratifying two international anti-nuclear terrorism pacts before the next summit, which is happening next week in The Hague, Netherlands.

President Park Geun-hye said "it would cause great damage to our national interests if we fail to keep our promise, let alone taking the lead ahead of others, at a time, when the world is watching North Korea's nuclear threats."

She asked lawmakers to approve the bill "at an early date."

Park said it was "truly regrettable" that political tussles had stalled progress on the nuclear-security bill, whose passage is necessary for Seoul to ratify the two international treaties. Opposition lawmakers from the Democratic Party are tying passage of the legislation to a separate bill for which they expect a concession, according to the news agency.

Separately, South Korea and the United States on Tuesday formalized an agreement to renew a bilateral atomic cooperation deal for another two years, the U.S. State Department announced. The extension was necessary to prevent the deal from lapsing while negotiators from the two nations hammer out a replacement accord.

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