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Trump declares North Korea a sponsor of terrorism – but experts warn move may trigger WW3

The US President made the announcement on Monday as he blasted North Korea for repeatedly supporting “acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil” – believed be a reference to the murder of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam earlier this year.


The designation will allow the US to impose more sanctions which will be announced on Tuesday.

President Trump said: “In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil.

“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.”

He added that North Korea, who was removed from the list in 2008 under then-President George W Bush, should have been re-listed "a long time ago”.

Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, called the decision "an important step in our efforts to apply maximum diplomatic and financial pressure on Kim Jong-un.”

However, Democratic senator Edward Markey dismissed the designation, adding it "ratchets up the rhetoric" but does nothing to hold North Korea accountable for its weapons programme.

Meanwhile, some experts, including a former chief US negotiator during the 1994 North Korean nuclear crisis, have warned it could be a “miscalculation” by Trump and “just further cements a dangerous game of escalatory brinkmanship” amid World War 3 fears.

The list includes Iran – designated in 1984, Sudan – added in 1993, and Syria – listed in 1979.

The announcement comes after a United Nations report revealed that North Korean weapons were discovered on Iranian ships on route to war-torn Somalia. 

According to the report, the Iranian ship was smuggling machine guns from North Korea to arm militants in Somalia and Libya.

Anactivist pretends to punch another wearing a mask of U.S. President Donald Trump next to a model of a nuclear rocket

A UN diplomat earlier asked: “Why are Iranian and North Korean small arms finding their way into Somalia from Libya? Do they date from before the arms embargoes against both North Korea and Iran? How did they get there from Libya?

“It certainly emphasises the point that Somalia is a country awash with arms and still very fragile.”

Earlier this year a North Korean ship was also seized after it was caught carrying a huge supply of weapons to Egypt.

More than 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades discovered on board the freighter named the Jie Shun which the hermit kingdom had decorated with deceptive Cambodian colours.

KimJong-un inspecting a nuclear-capable missile

The designation follows Trump’s return from a 12-day, five-nation trip to Asia in which he made containing North Korea's nuclear ambitions a centrepiece of his discussions.

The rogue state has made no secret of its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland and has fired two missiles over Japan in the second half of this year.

On September 3, North Korea detonated its sixth and largest nuclear test, which sparked an artificial earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3.

Meanwhile, South Korea's spy agency said on Monday that the despotic nation may conduct additional missile tests this year to improve its long-range missile technology and ramp up the threat against US.

However, experts believe the ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ designation will be largely symbolic as North Korea is already heavily sanctioned by the US.

State Secretary Rex Tillerson added: “The practical effects may be limited but hopefully we're closing off a few loopholes with this.”

In his announcement, Trump remembered Otto Warmbier, the college student from Ohio who died in June shortly after his return from North Korea, where he was held for more than a year.

His death caused outrage in the United States and further inflamed tensions with Pyongyang.

But a US intelligence official has warned that Trump's last move could backfire and escalate tension further amid fears nations are on the brink of triggering World War 3.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Kim could respond in a number of ways, including renewing missile or nuclear tests in "a very volatile environment”.


The official added that the move also could also damage US relations with China, who Trump has repeatedly been pushing to put additional pressure on the despotic regime.

Meanwhile, others have argued that re-listing North Korea will severe any chance of dialogue – the nation had been removed under the Bush administration in 2008 in a bid to encourage denuclearisation talks.

Robert Gallucci, the chief US negotiator during the 1994 North Korean nuclear crisis, said: "I don't see how this helps, and it might just be an important miscalculation.”

Harry Kazianis, director of defence studies at the Washington, DC-based public policy think tank Center for the National Interest, added: "Sadly, this action by the Trump administration just further cements a dangerous game of escalatory brinkmanship where neither side is giving the other any off-ramp.”

North Korea was first put on the US terrorism sponsor list in 1987 after the bombing of a Korean Air flight that killed all 115 people aboard.

Source: express

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