WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said on Monday that he will declare North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, adding the Asian nation to a list that includes Iran, Syria and Sudan.
Trump made the announcement at a White House meeting with members of his Cabinet.
The move, which will be accompanied by new sanctions on Pyongyang to be issued by the Treasury Department on Tuesday, “should have happened years ago,” Trump emphasized before journalists.
In addition, the president urged North Korea to end its “unlawful” development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
The White House in recent weeks had said that Trump was considering including North Korea on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, from which Pyongyang was dropped in 2008.
In February, South Korea asked Washington to once again place Pyongyang on the list after the murder in Malaysia of Kim Jong-nam, the older brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Meanwhile, on Monday Trump recalled the “murder” of Otto Warmbier, the US student who died in June after being returned to the US in a coma after having been a prisoner in North Korea.
Trump has opted for harsh rhetoric in response to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and, during his speech in September before the UN General Assembly, he threatened to “totally destroy” that country if it continued its provocations.
The president has also said several times that he is not ruling out military action against the Pyongyang regime given that, in his judgment, years of dialogue have not worked to curb its nuclear ambitions.
The North Korean nuclear threat was the focus of a good portion of Trump’s recent Asia tour, during which he visited Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.