President Donald Trump has announced that he will designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The president stated that the North Korean regime has continually sponsored terrorist acts including “assassinations on foreign soil.” He argued that this designation would support the United States’ “maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.”
Since taking office, the president has taken a tougher stance on the totalitarian regime than his predecessors. He has imposed some of the most aggressive sanctions against Pyongyang and convinced the Chinese government to apply economic pressure on the country’s government.
This latest move is yet another indicator that the Trump administration is intent on compelling the Kim regime to abandon its nuclear weapons program. While the president’s critics have excoriated his approach, it is clear that the milquetoast strategies of previous administrations have failed to produce any real results. Perhaps a more robust strategy is needed.
What Is A State Sponsor Of Terrorism?
Currently, there are four nations (including North Korea) on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. According to the State Department, these are countries who “have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.” This designation means that the United States could impose aggressive sanctions against the governments of these nations.
What Does This Mean For North Korea?
Some believe that placing a country on the state sponsor of terrorism list is merely a symbolic gesture; however, applying this label means that the United States will take harsher punitive measures towards these nations. Now that North Korea is on the list, the U.S. will take the following actions:
- Ban arms-related sales and exports.
- Oppose loans from international agencies to the North Korean government.
- Prevent U.S. citizens from engaging in financial transactions with Pyongyang.
According to President Trump, this move will result in “the highest level of sanctions by the time it’s finished over a two-week period.”
The sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations have already taken a serious toll on North Korea. On Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that these actions have caused fuel shortages and long lines at gas stations. More importantly, North Korea’s revenue has seen a dramatic decrease.
The Daily Caller reported that earlier this month, North Korea sent a mission to Geneva complaining about the damaging impact of the sanctions. At a recent conference, Ri Jong Ho, a former North Korean official who managed the government’s finances indicated that Pyongyang might not be able to handle the pressure much longer. “I don’t know if North Korea will survive a year [under] sanctions,” he said. “The sanctions that the White House has imposed on North Korea are of a historic level … Never before has the country faced such tough sanctions.”
Here’s Why North Korea Is A State Sponsor Of Terrorism
North Korea was first placed on the list in 1987 after its operatives bombed a South Korean Airlines Flight that killed 115 people. President George W. Bush removed the regime from the list in 2008, hoping that the gesture would help the United States persuade Kim Jong Il to abandon the nuclear program.
Since being removed from the list, North Korea has repeatedly engaged in nefarious activities including kidnappings and assassinations. The regime has abducted thousands of South Korean and Japanese citizens. In 2002, Kim Jong Il admitted that Pyongyang had taken 13 Japanese citizens. A 2014 United Nations reports revealed that Pyongyang has kidnapped as many as 100,000 people from other countries.
There is no doubt that North Korea has engaged in terrorist activities. But is Trump’s approach the correct one?
Why President Trump’s Approach Could Work
North Korea has remained a problem for the West since the end of the Korean War. Not only has the regime oppressed its people, but it has also been working towards developing nuclear weapons that could strike the United States and other Western nations.
Previous administrations have made numerous ill-fated attempts to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush used appeasement and bribes to influence the leadership.
The North Korean leader gladly took our money and food while agreeing to halt its nuclear program. Of course, he never intended to fulfill his end of the bargain — he used the resources we gave him to continue developing his nuclear arsenal. The United States didn’t realize we were being hoodwinked until 2002 when Pyongyang admitted that they were still pursuing their nuclear program.
When President Obama took office, he adopted a plan of “strategic patience,” which could also be defined as “do nothing and let the next guy deal with it.” Obama’s reticence to confront North Korea has allowed them to further develop their nuclear capabilities. Recently, it was reported that the regime had developed the technology to place a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The Trump Approach
Trump’s approach to the North Korea issue is a significant departure from that of previous administrations. Instead of using appeasement, he is taking a harder stance against Kim Jong Un. He has used rhetoric that is more bellicose and threatening in nature. Rather than bribing the regime with money and food, he is depriving them of the resources they need to develop their nuclear program. He has brought China to the table in a way that other presidents couldn’t.
Some have expressed concerns that Trump’s policy towards North Korea may be dangerous and ineffective. However, the methods previous administrations have used have not been effective — continuing to use them could be even more dangerous. Determining whether or not Trump’s approach will produce the desired result may not be a simple matter, but so far, it seems that he is making more progress than his predecessors.