The US government is set to designate North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, President Donald Trump announced on Monday 20 November. The country, then under the reign of Kim Jong-Un's father, had been considered a state sponsor of terrorism until 2008 when the designation was rescinded as part of nuclear talks.
The move is part of a "maximum pressure campaign", the president said, adding that the designation would put further pressure on North Korea as it continues it quest to become a nuclear power.
"In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil," Trump said. The murder of Kim's elder half brother, Kim Jong-Nam, at a Malaysian airport was cited by officials.
Some in the state department were uncertain whether the country fits the criteria for terrorism, according to the Associated Press, with disagreement over whether the treatment of American student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after his return to the United States, constituted terrorism.
Tensions have heightened on the Korean penisular in recent months as Kim Jong-Un continues nuclear and bassalistic missiles tests with the purported aim of developing a nuclear warhead that could reach the continental US.
The dispute has even veered into the personal with Trump surprising many with a tweet calling the North Korean dictator "short and fat". "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me "old," when I would NEVER call him 'short and fat?' Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!" the US President wrote.
Earlier in November, a high level North Korean defector, Thae Yong-ho, argued that Kim was set on gaining a nuclear deterrent and instead emphasised non-military action that the country could take against the regime, including further acting to disseminate information into the closed state. "It is increasingly possible to think about civilian uprising in North Korea," Thae argued during a hearing at the House of Representatives.
Arkansas senator Tom Cotton said in a statement that he strongly supported the move: "There's no doubt the Kim regime thrives off spreading mayhem around the globe, and today's decision is another step in the Administration's effort to bring the greatest pressure to bear on the Kim regime.
"Now the rest of the world should follow our lead, and fully isolate the North Korean regime. Better to address this threat now than to let it grow any further."