Designating North Korea as ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ a pressure tactic: US
Washington: North Korea’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism is part of a series of steps to put pressure on the reclusive nation, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has said, asserting that America’s intention was to hold Pyongyang accountable for its recent actions.
US President Donald Trump declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism on Monday. “Today, the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. It should have happened a long time ago. It should have happened years ago,” Trump said in his address to the cabinet. “It’s really just the latest step in a series of, as you can see, ongoing steps to increase the pressure—I call it the peaceful pressure campaign; the president calls it the maximum pressure campaign. So, there’s no confusion, they’re one and the same,” Tillerson told reporters on Monday.
He said the move was to “hold North Korea accountable for a number of actions that they’ve taken over the last several months, the last year or so”. Tillerson said the actions Pyongyang had taken, including assassinations outside of the country using banned chemical weapons, were all very serious actions that put the public at risk. “So that, along with a number of other actions that they’ve taken, resulted in their designation, now, again, as a state sponsor of terrorism,” he said. “It may, though, disrupt and dissuade some third parties from undertaking certain activities with North Korea, as it does impose a prohibition on a number of other activities that might not be covered by existing sanctions,” he added.
Tillerson said the decision, more importantly, is to point out North Korea’s illicit and unlawful behaviour internationally. “We felt it necessary to reimpose the designation for that reason,” he said. He said there was a very specific designation process that the US goes through at the state department to meet the criteria to make such a designation. “We wanted to ensure we had fully met all those requirements. Again, this is all part of just continuing to turn this pressure up. We continue to turn the pressure up on North Korea by getting other countries to join and take actions on their own,” he said.
“We’ve had other countries—in our visit to Vietnam, they have committed that they’re going to curtail activities further with North Korea. Malaysia has indicated their curtailment. Singapore has cut off all trade with North Korea. The Philippines have cut off all trade,” he said. The Sudanese government, which have traditionally been buying military weapons from North Korea, have agreed to halt all those purchases as well, he added.
“So it’s taking effect all around the world. We think, as it takes effect, again, this just continues to tighten the pressure on the Kim regime, all with an intention to have him understand, this is only going to get worse until you’re ready to come and talk,” he said. Tillerson said the US has not given up on China agreeing to oil embargo.
“With China we continue to talk with them, fist to ensure that they are fully committed to implementing all the UN sanctions and they have assured us they are. Which, as you’ll recall, the last round of sanctions imposed a pretty severe restriction on the import of finished products, so fuels, petroleum, diesel, jet fuel and whatnot,” he said.
“But we have suggested to them, look you control that oil pipeline that feeds their refinery. You can do that unilaterally on your own if you want to increase that pressure. Whether they’re doing that or not, we don’t know and it’s very difficult for us to know whether they’re taking actions to curtail oil supplies to them,” Tillerson said.
Nuclear-armed North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan on 29 August in a major escalation of tensions by Pyongyang. Five days later, it carried out a sixth nuclear test, sending tensions soaring over its weapons ambitions and causing global concern. PTI