Trump to re-designate North Korea as terrorism sponsor

Trump declares North Korea state sponsor of terror

President Donald Trump said Monday he will designate North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, subjecting the regime to additional sanctions.

An undated image distributed by the North Korean government on September 3, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an undisclosed location.

Mr Trump visited South Korea earlier this month as part of a 12-day trip to Asia, where he addressed the South Korean National Assembly and issued a warning to the North. Trump called Kim Jong-un's government a "murderous regime" supporting "acts of worldwide terrorism", and once again called on the nation to "end its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile development" programs. "Should have happened a long time ago. And do not try us", Trump said.

The U.S. State Department now lists Sudan, Syria and Iran as nations that have "repeatedly provided support for acts of global terrorism".

Trump warned that, in addition to the terror designation, Washington is preparing yet another round of sanctions to force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear missile program. His death caused outrage in the United States and further inflamed tensions with Pyongyang.

The primary impact of the designation may be to compound North Korea's growing global isolation as it is already subject to an array of tough USA sanctions restricting trade, foreign assistance, defence sales and exports of sensitive technology.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kim could respond in a number of ways, including renewing missile or nuclear tests in "a very volatile environment".

Trump announced the move Monday during a public meeting with his Cabinet at the White House and said the Treasury Department will announce new sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday.

In any case, it will do little to open the way for USA dialogue with North Korea, which China, Pyongyang's No. 1 ally, and others have been pushing for.

USA officials involved in the internal deliberations said there was no debate over whether the February killing of Kim's half brother Kim Jong Nam was a terrorist act.

But US officials see the designation - lifted by then-president George W. Bush in 2008 - as a way of ratcheting up the pressure on Pyongyang and especially on other states that may be failing to fully enforce the sanctions already in place.

Leaning into the likelihood that Trump would decide to reinstate North Korea's spot on the list, a senior administration official told reporters that taking North Korea off the list "was one of the things that a previous administration part of a hopeful attempt to lure them into reversing the threat".

U.S. Representative Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, called the decision "an important step in our efforts to apply maximum diplomatic and financial pressure on Kim Jong Un".

"Sadly, this action by the Trump administration just further cements a risky game of escalatory brinkmanship where neither side is giving the other any off-ramp", he said.

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