President of the United States Donald Trump on Mon, Nov. 20, in the latest demonstration of heightening tensions in Korea, designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Speaking during the public meeting with his Cabinet at the White House, Trump said that the Treasury Department will announce new sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday Nov. 21.
North Korea becomes the latest country to join Iran, Sudan and Syria on a list of countries that have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”
In explaining his decision, referring to North Korea as a “murderous regime,” Trump cited two cases in which two people died under the regime. The first case is the recent death of an American citizen Otto Warmbier after being taken into custody in North Korea. Another cases Is the assassination of the North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother Kim Jong Nam at a Malaysian airport earlier this year.
Trump said at the meeting that North Korea has “repeatedly” bankrolled acts of terrorism which included “assassinations on foreign soil.”
“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea … and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime,” Trump said.
Trump had said in his recently-concluded thirteen-day trip in Asia that his administration would make announcements on North Korea “very soon.” During his visit in Asia, Trump wanted China and other neighboring countries to tighten sanctions on North Korea. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that the anticipated announcement would come “at the end of the trip.”
The U.S. had declared North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism for two decades between 1988 and 2008 but was lifted from the list by the George W. Bush administration in a failed agreement to curb North Korea’s advancement of their Nuclear weapons.
U.S. officials told the Associated Press that before making the announcement, Trump administration had debated on the issue for several months before drawing a conclusion. Reports by the U.S. officials indicate that there was disagreement on the issue as to whether North Korea met the legal requirement to be placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The development of tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been fueled by the progression by Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, to develop its nuclear program. American diplomats have tried to dialogue with North Korea regarding the nuclear program in addition to imposed financial sanctions aimed at paralyzing the country’s nuclear program.
Trump stated at the White House meeting that “The North Korean regime must be lawful” and “must end its unlawful nuclear development.”