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Trump Designating North Korea As A State Sponsor Of Terrorism

President Trump appears with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a Monday Cabinet meeting, where he announced North Korea would again be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Evan Vucci
President Trump appears with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a Monday Cabinet meeting, where he announced North Korea would again be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Updated at 4:12 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is putting North Korea back on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. President Trump says the move "supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate this murderous regime."

President Trump told reporters on Monday that the Treasury Department will officially announce additional sanctions and penalties on the North Korean regime on Tuesday.

President Trump says this should have happened years ago. In fact, North Korea was on the list until 2008, when the Bush administration took it off, in an ultimately failed bid to salvage a denuclearization deal.

Trump's move won praise from members of Congress, who supported legislation that paved the way for North Korea's return to the blacklist.

"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," writes House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif. "These aren't isolated incidents, but are examples of a consistent pattern of terror."

President Trump also mentioned Warmbier in his brief statement at the beginning of a Cabinet meeting on Monday where he made the announcement. Warmbier is the UVA student who was spent a year and a half in a North Korean jail only to return in a coma. He died a week later.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged that putting North Korea back on the terrorist list is a largely symbolic move, with limited practical effect.

"It just points out again what a rogue regime this is and how brutal this regime is and how little they care for the value of human life," Tillerson told reporters.

"I don't want to suggest to you that the designation is going to put a whole new layer of sanctions on them," he added. "We already have North Korea so heavily sanctioned in so many ways with the UN resolutions that have been undertaken. But this will close a few additional loopholes."

Tillerson suggested other countries supplying North Korea with so-called "dual use" equipment — that could have both military and civilian applications — might think twice as a result of the new designation.

The other countries on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list are Iran, Sudan and Syria.

NPR's Scott Horsley and Arnie Seipel contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Arnie Seipel is the Deputy Washington Editor for NPR. He oversees daily news coverage of politics and the inner workings of the federal government. Prior to this role, he edited politics coverage for seven years, leading NPR's reporting on the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections. In between campaigns, Seipel edited coverage of Congress and the White House, and he coordinated coverage of major events including State of the Union addresses, Supreme Court confirmations and congressional hearings.
Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.