US Considers Reinstating North Korea on Terror Sponsor List
The United States is considering designating North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, the White House national security adviser said Thursday, a move meant to put additional financial and diplomatic pressure on the totalitarian government.
The State Department faces a congressionally mandated Thursday deadline to respond to several U.S. senators' request that North Korea be returned to the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Currently, the only countries on the list are Iran, Syria and Sudan.
By Thursday afternoon, the State Department had not announced its decision, but White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said the U.S. was still considering the move.
The decision comes as President Donald Trump prepares to leave for a five-nation tour of Asia, during which North Korea is expected to be a main focus.
The U.S. put North Korea on the terror sponsor list in 1988, after North Korean agents blew up a South Korean civilian airliner, killing 115 people. But Pyongyang was removed in 2008 after they met specific benchmarks related to a nuclear disarmament deal.
The six-party disarmament talks collapsed a short time later, and North Korea declared the nuclear deal void. It has since conducted five more nuclear tests and steadily ramped up its ballistic missile program, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Under U.S. law, a government must have "repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism" in order to be included on the Sponsors of Terrorism list.
While North Korea is widely regarded as one of the most oppressive governments in the world with respect to its own people, its involvement with international terrorism is less prominent.
IS claims NYC Truck Terrorist is One of Its Soldiers
The Islamic State has claimed Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant who killed eight people in New York City earlier this week with a truck, as one of its own.
The terrorist group said in Al-Naba, the group's weekly newspaper, that the attacker was one of its "soldiers," but did not provide any evidence to support its claim.
Saipov, who came to the United States legally through the diversity lottery visa program, faces numerous terrorism related charges in connection with Tuesday's deadly rampage down a New York City bicycle path in a rented truck. In addition to the eight people who were killed, a dozen more were seriously injured.
Saipov was wounded by a police officer after the attack and was taken to a hospital. Hospital officials said the attacker stated his allegiance to IS and asked to have an IS flag in his hospital room. His request was denied.
Uzbekistan's president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, said Wednesday the attack was ruthless and cruel, and that his government stood ready to use all means to assist in the investigation.
Law enforcement officials had noted that Saipov's method of using a rented truck was similar to IS-inspired vehicle attacks in other Western countries in recent years. New America, a nonpartisan research center, said 15 vehicular attacks have been carried out since 2014, killing more than 140 people.
With the New York City Marathon due to attract more than 50,000 runners and many hundreds of thousands of spectators this Sunday, the New York Police Department said it would increase the number of officers throughout the city "out of an abundance of caution."