Washington plans to put North back on terror list

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Washington plans to put North back on terror list

The U.S. Congress is planning to review a bill that calls for North Korea to be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism following the FBI’s conclusion that Pyongyang was responsible for the hack into Sony Pictures.

A diplomatic source in Washington on Monday told the JoongAng Ilbo said that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a congresswoman from Florida, plans on introducing a bill to put Pyongyang on the State Sponsors of Terrorism. Currently Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria are on the list.

These countries are determined by the U.S. Secretary of State to have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” including through the export of arms.

Ros-Lehtinen also confirmed that she will be introducing legislation to reinstate North Korea as a sponsor of terrorism and “to ratchet up the sanctions pressure on the North Korean regime,” according to Yonhap News Agency.

“North Korea should have never been taken off the State Sponsor of Terrorism list and should be reinstated immediately,” she said.

North Korea was initially added to the State Sponsor of Terrorism listed in 1988 and removed in 2008 under the George W. Bush administration for meeting nuclear inspection criteria.

Sanctions resulting from this designation include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance and a ban on defense exports and sales, as well as financial and other restrictions.

The U.S. State Department’s most recent report on terrorism from 2013, however, states that Pyongyang “is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987.”

“If the U.S. Congress decides to push through with designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, this can cause division between South Korea and the United States,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “North Korea may bring out their nuclear and missile weapons and raise tensions in Northeast Asia.”

Pyongyang over the weekend also slammed a new set of sanctions imposed by the Barack Obama administration over the Sony cyberattack. These latest sanctions were on three North Korean entities, including the country’s intelligence bureau and 10 individuals.

However, Senator Robert Menendez, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Sunday on CNN that being put on the list “would have far more pervasive consequences” than the latest round of sanctions on Pyongyang.

BY SARAH KIM, CHAE BYUNG-GUN [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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