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Trump declares North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism

WASHINGTON – President Trump said Monday he plans to declare Kim Jong Un's government a state sponsor of terrorism, as he seeks to ratchet up the pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

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," Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

In decrying Kim's "murderous regime," Trump cited the recent death of American citizen Otto Warmbier after he was taken into custody in North Korea. He also appeared to reference North Korea's support of an assassination of Kim's half-brother Kim Jong Nam, a political rival who sustained a nerve agent attack at a Malaysia airport in February.

“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil,”
Trump said. Trump made the announcement one week after returning from a trip to Asia, where he asked China and other countries in the region to tighten the financial and diplomatic vise on North Korea.As part of that effort, Trump said his Treasury Department on Tuesday will announce an additional economic sanction on North Korea, and "it will be the highest level of sanctions by the time it's finished over a two-week period."Trump said the terror declaration "should have happened a long time ago." Yet the United States has previously declared North Korea to be a state sponsor of terrorism – for two decades, in fact, from 1988 to 2008.The George W. Bush administration took the country off the list in 2008 as part of an ultimately failed agreement with North Korea to curb its nuclear weapons program.
Designating the rogue nation as a sponsor of terror would give the U.S. another pressure point against North Korea. It would also be a “diplomatic setback” for the country, Marc Thiessen, a former Bush aide and foreign policy expert, wrote in a recent op-ed arguing in favor of the move.“The additional sanctions that come with a re-designation may not make much of a difference in North Korean’s behavior, but they are one piece of a larger strategy for isolating and squeezing the North Korean regime,” Thiessen wrote.Trump and other supporters of the new listing have said the case of Warmbier, an American student who died of injuries sustained while in custody in North Korea, was part of the impetus for the decision. Kim's government had sentenced Warmbier to 15 years hard labor over claimed he tried to steal a poster from a staff-only section of a hotel in North Korea.During ten minutes of remarks at the start of his Cabinet meeting, Trump also expressed optimism that Congress would pass a tax cut.

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