North Korea responded on Wednesday to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to relist the county as a state sponsor of terrorism, calling it a “grave provocation and aggressive violation”, North Korean state media reported.
Trump put 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 tension over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes.
In an interview with state media outlet KCNA, a spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry called the decision “disgraceful behaviour” by Trump and denied that North Korea engaged in any terrorism.
NAN reports that Trump while relisting Northh Korea, said it was aimed at drastically increasing pressure on the “rogue nation” to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
North Korea joined Sudan, Syria and Iran as countries that the State Department identifies as those that have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”
“Should have happened a long time ago,” Trump told reporters at the start of a cabinet meeting at the White House.
The president said the designation would be followed on Tuesday by the “highest level of sanctions” against Pyongyang to force the end of the development of its nuclear and ballistic missiles.
Trump has vowed to seek “complete denuclearisation” in North Korea and has threatened “fire and fury” aimed at the country if it endangers the United States.
This year, the president ordered an end to the policy of “strategic patience” that was pursued by President Barack Obama, in the hopes that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, would eventually agree to negotiate.
“This just continues to tighten the pressure on the Kim regime,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after
Trump’s announcement, “all with an intention to have him understand that this is only going to get worse until you are ready to come and talk.”
Still, it is unclear whether the terrorism designation will give the president and the secretary of state new and powerful leverage to force nuclear negotiations — or simply deepen the war of words between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.
Long a pariah in the international community, North Korea was put on Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism in 1988 after Pyongyang’s agents planted a bomb on a South Korean passenger jet, killing all 115 people aboard, in 1987.
That attack was instructed by Kim Jong-il, the father of Kim Jong-un, according to one of the agents, who was caught alive.
North Korea was removed from the official State Department terrorism list nearly 20 years later by President George W. Bush, who in 2008 saw it as an opportunity to salvage a fragile nuclear deal in which North Korea would agree to halt its nuclear program.
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