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Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
The U.S. has re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism (SSOT), President Donald Trump announced on camera at a cabinet meeting on Monday.
Trump added that the U.S. Department of the Treasury will announce further financial measures against North Korea on Tuesday, accompanying the designation.
“Today the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism… It should have happened a long time ago, it should have happened years ago,” he said.
“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil,” the President added.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was meant to announce a decision on whether or not North Korea qualifies as a SSOT by October 31 as required by Section 324 of the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act 2017″, signed into law on August 2.
But he did not announce a decision and instead accompanied Trump on a tour of Asia, which concluded on November 14.
North Korea was designated a state sponsor of terror in 1988 by George H W Bush, but it was later removed from the list in 2008.
“The Kim regime should not have been removed from the list in 2008 and the U.S. government should have re-listed it before today,” Anthony Ruggiero, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said on Monday. “Today’s designation is long overdue as North Korea continued its sponsorship of terrorism.”
“Pyongyang’s use of nerve agent to kill Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is the most visible example of North Korea’s attacks on dissent overseas. A few years ago after North Korea’s cyber hack of Sony Pictures, it threatened a 9/11 style attack against U.S. movie theaters,” he added.
Ruggiero also told NK News that North Korea is likely to deny any sponsorship of terrorism but that recent examples of activity in addition to the country’s relationship with Syria and Iran would make arguments against the listing difficult.
North Korea joins Iran, Syria, and Sudan on Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, though the U.S. signaled last week that Sudan may soon be removed from the list.
Additional reporting by Leo Byrne