Putting North Korea Back on Terror Blacklist Threatens Diplomacy

Posted November 24, 2017

The announcement of the new sanctions came one day after the USA government relisted North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, with President Donald Trump calling it a "murderous regime". The North Koreans said President Trump's decision to put North Korea back on a list of states that sponsor terrorism is a "serious provocation".

The designation had been debated for months inside the administration, with some officials at the State Department arguing that North Korea did not meet the legal standard to be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism. Standing front and center on the world stage, the American President called Kim Jong Un "Rocket Man", as well as a series of other slurs better suited for a speech by a middle school preteen running for class president.

Experts say the USA decision to put North Korea back on its terrorism blacklist will have limited practical effect, but may make a diplomatic solution of the standoff over its nuclear weapons program more hard.

New U.S. sanctions announced Tuesday against North Korea may add some substance to the symbolism, but only if China - which accounts for nearly all of North Korea's trade - decides to help.

Trump said strong US sanctions "supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime" - a claim that no one would deny.

The sanctions showed the determination of the U.S.to stifle trade across the Yalu or Amnok River between the Chinese city of Dandong and Sinuiju on the North Korean side.

But a symbolic hostile gesture is still a hostile gesture, and analysts are warning that this move is likely to do further harm to any efforts to get negotiations with North Korea started, as it will encourage North Korea to retaliate with some move, and the USA will be even less willing to be seen communicating with "terrorists".

The latest USA sanctions still leave open the question of how far Trump is willing to go to bring North Korea to the table.

But North Korea is unlikely to give in to the sanctions and come back to the negotiation table anytime soon. On Tuesday the USA unveiled its fresh sanctions which also targeted North Korean shipping, raising the pressure on the North to abandon its nuclear programme. The spokesperson noted that their actions included expulsion of North Korean workers and diplomats.

Despite being shot five times and suffering from infections and parasites, the soldier survived after getting medical treatment in South Korea.

As Trump said, the decision reaffirms the U.S. government's commitment to imposing maximum pressure on the Pyongyang government. North Korea quickly lashed out at Trump, calling him a "kingpin of all kinds of terrorism" and accusing him of being unable to prevent terrorism in his own country. This has been an alarmingly common combination for United States policy toward North Korea to achieve. One of his favorite comments is the USA should have re-designated North Korea as a sponsor of terror "a long time ago" - that was a dig against Obama's policy of "strategic patience" in dealing with the North.