U.S. senator renews call to put North on terror list

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U.S. senator renews call to put North on terror list

U.S. Republican Senator Cory Gardner introduced a resolution on Tuesday calling for North Korea to be put back on the nation’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, stating that the reclusive regime posed a grave security threat to the United States.

Demanding a tougher stance from the Barack Obama administration in dealing with Pyongyang, the Colorado senator claimed that reinstating North Korea on the list was needed given its “major threat to the security of the United States and our allies in East Asia.”

Gardner, the chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, also cited estimates by nuclear experts on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

According to the resolution, such analysts reported that “the DPRK may currently have as many as 20 nuclear warheads and has the potential to possess as many 100 warheads within the next five years.”

DPRK is the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the state’s official name.

The senator also cited a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Defense, which states that North Korea “has proliferated nuclear technology to Libya via the proliferation network of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan.”

Though North Korea was removed from the list of terrorism sponsors in 2008, its three nuclear tests have already earned it a set of UN sanctions.

Gardner’s demand for subjecting Pyongyang to an additional set of sanctions by renaming it as a state sponsor of terrorism comes as North Korea has remained steadfast in pursuing its nuclear ambitions and building up its arsenal.

The six-party talks platform was originally formed with the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, China and the United States with the aim of convincing Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions and resolve security concerns on the Korean Peninsula.

However, North Korea pulled out of the talks in late 2008 and since then, discussions have been stalled.

The United States concluded that North Korea was behind a series of cyberattacks last year on the California-based Sony Pictures over its release of the comedy “The Interview,” which depicted an assassination plot on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The incident aggravated anti-Pyongyang sentiment in Washington.

If it is reinstated as a state sponsor of terrorism, North Korea will see additional restrictions on American aid and assistance and be prohibited from certain trade and miscellaneous financial transactions.

North Korea was added to the list in 1988 for its bombing of a South Korean airliner a year earlier, which killed all 115 passengers onboard. The country was taken off the list in 2008.

Currently, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Sudan are designated by the United States as state sponsors of terrorism, although President Obama has decided to exclude Cuba from the list amid recent efforts to normalize ties with its Cold War rival.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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