President Donald Trump has placed North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism on Monday – a designation that allows the United States to impose more sanctions and risks inflaming tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.
Trump’s decision comes amid heightened nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The Republican president, who has traded personal insults with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but has not ruled out talks, said the Treasury Department will announce additional sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday.
He further disclosed that the designation is long overdue step and part of the U.S. “maximum pressure campaign” against the North, as it will impose further penalties on the country.
Literally, it means North Korea would join Iran, Sudan and Syria on the list of state sponsors of terror.
“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.”
U.S. officials cited the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother in a Malaysian airport earlier this year as an act of terrorism.
The designation had been debated for months inside the administration, with some officials at the State Department arguing that North Korea did not meet the legal standard to be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism.