U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, a move that allows the Trump administration to impose additional sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programmes.
North Korea had been removed from the list of state sponsor of terrorism under the George W Bush administration.
The announcement was made by Mr. Trump during his Cabinet meeting.
“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,” Mr. Trump said in his address to the Cabinet.
In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil, he said.
“As we take this action today, our thoughts to turn to Otto Warmbier, a wonderful young man, and the countless others so brutally affected by the North Korean oppression,” he said.
“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 that you’ve all been reading about and, in some cases, writing about,” Mr. Trump added.
On Tuesday, the Treasury Department will be announcing an additional round of sanctions, and a very large one, on North Korea, he said.
“This will be going on over the next two weeks. It will be the highest level of sanctions by the time it’s finished over a two-week period. The North Korean regime must be lawful. It must end its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile development, and cease all support for international terrorism — which it is not doing,” Mr. Trump said.
The House Foreign Relations Committee welcomed the move.
“I applaud the administration for relisting North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Over the past year alone, Kim Jong-Un and his regime brazenly assassinated his brother with a chemical weapon and brutally tortured Otto Warmbier, leading directly to his tragic death,” said Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
These are not isolated incidents, but are examples of a consistent pattern of terror, he said.
The regime also continues its push to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, threatening global security, Mr. Trump said.
“This designation — endorsed by a high-ranking North Korean defector who recently testified before the committee — rightly exposes the Kim regime’s utter disregard for human life and is an important step in our efforts to apply maximum diplomatic and financial pressure on Kim Jong-Un,” Royce said.
Congresswoman Ileana Ro-Lehtinen, chairman Emeritus of House Committee on Foreign Affairs, commended the decision.
“Redesignating North Korea provides the administration with important tools to increase pressure on the Kim regime and I commend the decision to put it back on the list where it belongs,” she said.
Nuclear-armed North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan on 29 August in a major escalation of tensions by Pyongyang. Five days later, it carried out a sixth nuclear test, sending tensions soaring over its weapons ambitions and causing global concern.