Following comments by the White House last week that the administration would soon bring more pressure on North Korea, President Donald Trump has confirmed as much to a crowd of reporters, adding that, as of today, that North Korea would once again be designated a terror sponsor.
Trump cited the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's estranged half brother in a Malaysian airport earlier this year, as well as the North’s horrific treatment of Ohio college student Otto Warmbier, as justifications for the sanctions.
“North Korea has supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump said.
“As we take this action today we think of Otto Warmbier and the many others affected by north korean opporession."
During remarks at the start of a cabinet meeting at the White House, Trump said the Treasury Department will announce on Tuesday additional sanctions against North Korea, describing the moves as “a very large one.” The sanctions will be imposed over the next two weeks, Trump said.
Trump demanded that the North cease its nuclear program and stop aiding terror groups across the world.
Trump called the move a long overdue step and part of the U.S. "maximum pressure campaign" against the North...
United States designates North Korea as a state sponsor of terror.— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) November 20, 2017
Pres. Trump: "Should have happened a long time ago, should have happened years ago." pic.twitter.com/3GC5Umcd4S
North Korea was last on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror in 2008, when the country was removed in a bid to salvage a deal to halt its nuclear development. Iran, Sudan and Syria are also designated by the U.S. as state sponsors of terror, the Associated Press pointed out.
The designation had been debated for months inside the administration, with some officials at the State Department arguing that the North did not meet the legal standard to be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Officials said there was no debate over whether the slaying of half brother Kim Jong Nam was a terrorist act. However, lawyers said there had to be more than one incident and there was disagreement over whether the treatment of Warmbier, who died of injuries suffered in North Korean custody, constituted terrorism.
While North Korea is being added to the list, last week, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said the United States was willing to consider removing Sudan, which has been on the list since 1993.