Trump Designating North Korea As A State Sponsor Of Terrorism That designation was removed in 2008, when the North Korean government pledged to dismantle its nuclear program. The president says additional sanctions will be imposed.
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Trump Designating North Korea As A State Sponsor Of Terrorism

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Trump Designating North Korea As A State Sponsor Of Terrorism

Trump Designating North Korea As A State Sponsor Of Terrorism

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump is putting North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism. And this paves the way for new sanctions, which are expected to be announced today. Although, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, it's mostly a symbolic move against a country already facing sanctions from the U.S. and the U.N.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: President Trump says this should have happened years ago.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil.

KELEMEN: Officials are only speaking publicly about one such assassination, that of Kim Jong Un's half-brother in Malaysia. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explains why.

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REX TILLERSON: Well, that assassination involved the use of a chemical agent, a very dangerous agent, in a public place.

KELEMEN: And that helped pave the way for North Korea to return to a blacklist that also includes Syria, Iran and Sudan. And though the death of an American student who was jailed in North Korea did not factor into this decision, President Trump mentioned him in the announcement.

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TRUMP: Our thoughts turn to Otto Warmbier, wonderful young man, and the countless others so brutally affected by the North Korean oppression.

KELEMEN: The Bush administration took North Korea off the state sponsors of terrorism list in 2008, a move Mike Green criticized at the time. He's a former Bush adviser on Asia and says the North Koreans were supposed to follow up by providing documents on how the U.S. and its partners could inspect North Korean nuclear facilities.

MIKE GREEN: The North Koreans never delivered. They pocketed the U.S. sanctions lifting but did nothing in response. It was a complete air ball, not even hitting the rim.

KELEMEN: The Japanese felt betrayed, Green says, because the U.S. had promised to keep North Korea on the list until there was progress over Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, and the move didn't help nuclear diplomacy in the end. And while some might see the Trump administration's move now as a step back from diplomacy, Green, who's with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says there are few prospects anyway.

GREEN: North Korea is rushing to finish the final stage of their marrying a nuclear weapon to a ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States. And it's very, very unlikely that any amount of sanctions or carrot diplomatic offerings will get them to stop.

KELEMEN: Secretary Tillerson, though, says he still has hopes for diplomacy.

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TILLERSON: And this just continues to tighten the pressure on the Kim regime with - all with an intention to have him understand this is only going to get worse until you're ready to come and talk.

KELEMEN: He acknowledges, though, that the North Koreans have demonstrated in the past that they're willing to withstand a lot to pursue a nuclear weapons capability. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department.

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