WASHINGTON – The United States is considering re-designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism in the event Pyongyang conducts another nuclear test, a government source in Washington said Wednesday.
By adopting such an approach, the United States seeks to demonstrate its determination not to allow nuclear weapons development, the source said.
The United States removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in October 2008 during the administration of President George W. Bush after Pyongyang agreed on steps for the verification of its nuclear program.
Even though a nuclear test does not constitute an act of terrorism, the United States apparently believes the re-designation would strengthen diplomatic pressure on the hermit nation.
The United States also plans to analyze details of military cooperation between North Korea and Iran, which is still on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, as well as the Lebanon-based guerilla group Hezbollah, according to the source.
If the United States put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism, the action would lead to penalties such as a ban on food aid and arms exports. However, it remains unclear whether labeling North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism again would have a substantial impact on the country, as it has already faces severe economic sanctions.
In April 2011, a group of U.S. lawmakers submitted a resolution seeking the re-designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism following its fatal artillery attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island.
North Korea, which conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and again in 2009, pledged to conduct a third nuclear test after the U.N. Security Council last month adopted a resolution censuring it over its rocket launch in December and toughening sanctions against the country.