President Donald Trump announced Monday that North Korea would once again be designated a state sponsor of terrorism, a list from which the regime was removed in 2008 when the U.S. was hopeful to move nuclear negotiations along. Saying the designation was long overdue, the president said the move would allow the U.S. to hit North Korea with even stronger sanctions.
“We will be instituting a very critical step and that will start right now,” said Trump on Monday. “Today, the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Should have happened a long time ago. Should have happened years ago.”
The designation will put North Korea on a very short list that includes Iran, Sudan, and Syria.
“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump said to explain the move.
Trump made the announcement shortly after returning from a highly-successful Asian tour, during which he spoke with Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean leaders to define a way forward on the issue of Pyongyang’s military aggression. The president pointedly refused to take a military option off the table on Monday, and he has been back and forth as to whether or not there is a diplomatic solution to the crisis. For their part, North Korea has refused to enter into formal negotiations about concluding their nuclear program, and they have continually increased their unhinged rhetoric and threatening posture towards the U.S. and its allies.
In a speech from South Korea on November 8, President Trump criticized North Korea as a country run by a reckless cult leader.
“At the center of this military cult is a deranged belief in the ruler’s destiny to rule as a parent protector over a conquered Korean Peninsula,” he said. “The more successful South Korea becomes, the more successfully you discredit the dark fantasy at the heart of the North Korean regime.”
Of course, that’s only true if the people of North Korea learn about their neighbor’s success, and that gets to the heart of the problem. In utter isolation from the rest of the world, the North Korean people have little choice but to believe the ridiculous brainwashing propaganda with which Kim Jong Un retains his hold over them. Until and unless the U.S. can begin hammering cracks in this bizarre facade, it will be difficult to inspire a revolution of democracy behind the curtain. If we can’t, we can only depend on our ability to pressure Kim into abandoning his weapons of war…one way or the other.