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U.S. President Donald Trump announced Monday the United States will declare North Korea to be a state sponsor of terrorism, a move the president said came in response to the DPRK's repeated support for "acts of worldwide terrorism, including assassination on foreign soil".

But US officials see the designation - lifted by then-president George W. Bush in 2008 - as a way of ratcheting up the pressure on Pyongyang and especially on other states that may be failing to fully enforce the sanctions already in place.

"Today the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism".

Trump said new sanctions announced over the coming weeks, including Tuesday by the Treasury Department, will bring USA sanctions against Pyongyang to their highest level ever. In mid-October, Trump turned down any diplomatic approach towards the DPRK in a message on his Twitter account.

An undated image distributed by the North Korean government on September 3, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an undisclosed location.

Specifically, Klingner cites recent cyberattacks against USA and South Korean targets, including the 2014 attack against Sony Pictures for producing a film critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The designation came a week after Trump returned from a 12-day, five-nation trip to Asia in which he made containing North Korea's nuclear ambitions a centerpiece of his discussions.

In any case, it will do little to open the way for US dialogue with North Korea, which China and others have been pushing for.

GETTYThe regime has fired missiles over Japan and dramatically accelerated its nuclear weapons programme
GETTYThe regime has fired missiles over Japan and dramatically accelerated its nuclear weapons programme

In response, a state-run North Korean newspaper called Trump an "old lunatic" on Sunday and derided his visit to South Korea as "nonsense".

Under sanctions legislation signed by Trump in August, the State Department was required to report to Congress earlier this month whether it will re-designate North Korea.

USA financial institutions are already banned from engaging in business with people or entities associated with the North Korean government.

"Over the past year alone, Kim Jong Un and his regime brazenly assassinated his brother with a chemical weapon and brutally tortured Otto Warmbier, leading directly to his tragic death", the California Republican said in a statement. "The regime also continues its push to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, threatening global security", Royce added. It now joins Iran, Syria and Sudan on the list, which is overseen by the State Department. A country must "repeatedly provided support for acts of worldwide terrorism" to get the label from the United States government. Cuba had been on the list but was removed by President Barack Obama in 2015.

Adding them back to the list will also increase the effectiveness of sanctions, he added.

A USA intelligence official who follows developments in North Korea expressed concern that the move could backfire, especially given that the basis for the designation is arguable.

The North Korean commentary accused Mr Trump of committing a "hideous crime against the Korean people" by insulting its leader, and warning that this "thrice-cursed crime can never be pardoned".


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