North Korea denounces USA terror listing as grave provocation

Posted November 24, 2017

US President Donald Trump this week declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, a spot on a US blacklist Pyongyang had shed almost a decade ago.

Experts say the USA decision to put North Korea back on its terrorism blacklist will have limited practical effects, but may make a diplomatic solution of the nuclear standoff more hard.

U.S. officials say Pyongyang is close to developing a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S., and have vowed that a nuclear-armed North Korea will not be tolerated.

Pyongyang also said on Wednesday that putting North Korea back on the terrorism blacklist will only strengthen its resolve to further develop the communist country's nuclear weapons programme. The sanctions specifically named four companies in Dandong that have been trading with North Korea despite United Nations sanctions that China's President Xi Jinping has said he fully supports. "The U.N. [Security Council] Sanction 2375 has been operating, so I think it will enhance pressure on Kim Jong Un's regime and worldwide society's distrust on North Korea".

The decision was labelled a "serious provocation" by the North Korean regime.

The move infuriated China, which is North Korea's main trading partner.

USA diplomats responsible for negotiating with the North Koreans in previous years were by and large supportive of strong sanctions - and also of calling North Korea a "terror state".

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Trump in restoring North Korea to the terror list criticized his predecessor, Barack Obama, for not having taken such a bold move during his eight years on office.

This continues a trend in which US-North Korea relations appear to send a lot of mixed messages.

Some North Korea analysts argue the state sponsor of terrorism designation and new sanctions could encourage a return to testing and belligerence from Pyongyang and discourage it from entering talks.

Such a decision had been largely expected in view of the recent case of Otto Wambier, an American college student who died after 17 months of detention in North Korea, and the apparent assassination of a half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a Malaysian airport in February this year.

Trump's decision comes amid heightened nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula. The spokesperson noted that their actions included expulsion of North Korean workers and diplomats. The U.S. president called North Korea a "murderous regime", a sentiment he repeated this week.

He further disclosed that the designation is long overdue step and part of the U.S.