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United States declares North Korea state sponsor of terror

North Korea is already under a wide array of the United States and United Nations sanctions.

United States declares North Korea state sponsor of terror
Pic courtesy: Reuters

Washington: US President Donald Trump on Monday declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism.

"Should have happened a long time ago. Should have happened years ago," Trump declared, announcing the designation at the start of a White House cabinet meeting.

"In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil," he said, AFP reported.

In February, Kim's potential rival and elder brother Kim Jong-Nam died after he was sprayed with a nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur airport, in an assassination blamed on Pyongyang.

"As we take this action today, our thoughts turn to Otto Warmbier and others affected by North Korean oppression," Trump continued, underlining the legal case for the designation.

US student Warmbier died in 2017 aged only 22 after he was repatriated from detention in North Korea already in a coma. US officials allege he was tortured in custody.

Trump warned that, in addition to the terror designation, Washington is preparing yet another round of sanctions to force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear missile program.

"The Treasury Department will be announcing an additional sanction - and a large one - on North Korea," he said.

On the other hand, Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary tweeted, "President announced that the US is again designating North Korea a state sponsor of terror."

North Korea is already under a wide array of the United States and United Nations sanctions, and the terror designation will not have much immediate economic impact in itself.

But US officials see the designation - lifted by then-president George W Bush in 2008 - as a way of ratcheting up the pressure on Pyongyang and especially on other states that may be failing to fully enforce the sanctions already in place.

The White House has declared it will not tolerate Kim's regime testing or deploying an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to US cities.

Meanwhile, South Korea`s spy agency said on Monday that it is possible North Korea can develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US mainland this year and that it is monitoring developments closely. 

No sign of an imminent nuclear test had been detected, though the North`s Punggye-ri complex appears ready for another detonation "at any time", the agency told lawmakers, Reuters reported.

North Korea, pursuing nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of world condemnation, is also enforcing stronger controls on outside information in the face of international sanctions, the lawmakers said.

(With Agency inputs)