President Donald Trump announced Monday during a public meeting with his Cabinet at the White House that the U.S. will be placing North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Whether or not North Korea will be reinstalled on the list it was removed from by President Bush in 2008 loomed over the President’s two week Asia tour. In a speech made in South Korea, President Trump described North Korea as an “out-of-control country” led by a “maniacal and deranged man.”
His fiery speech was followed by a statement to the reporters saying his administration would make an announcement on North Korea “very soon”, with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirming reports that the announcement would come “at the end of the trip.”
President Trump’s address to the Cabinet is a culmination of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, and the latest demonstration of the U.S. attempt to battle with “North Korean oppression.”
Trump continued his statement by saying that North Korea has repeatedly sponsored acts of terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil, and that this designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea.
New sanctions are expected to be put into effect during the following weeks. The Treasury Department is expected to announce new U.S. sanctions against Pyongyang Tuesday, which will, according to Trump, be the “highest ever”.
He called the sanctions a “long overdue step” and a crucial part of the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign against North Korea. During his address, the President cited the recent death of Otto Warmbier, an American citizen killed after being taken into custody in North Korea, as well as the assassination of Kim Jong Un‘s half-brother Kim Jong Nam, as reasons that contributed to his decision.
Marc Thiessen, a former Bush aide and foreign policy expert, said to USA Today that the move would be a major “diplomatic setback” for North Korea and that it is a “part of a larger strategy for isolating and squeezing the North Korean regime.”
Pyongyang is still to respond to President Trump’s statement and comment on the heightened sanctions.