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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson faces an important deadline on Oct. 31. It marks 90 days since legislation introduced by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz was passed, known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. It requires Tillerson to decide whether or not to re-list North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.
What does that mean?
It’s a designation applied by the U.S. State Department to countries it determines have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”
A designation would result in additional sanctions, above what the U.N. Security Council recently imposed on the reclusive nation.
They would include “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.”
North Korea was previously listed as a state sponsor of terrorism from 1988 until 2008. President George W. Bush removed it as part of an agreement with Pyongyang to limit its nuclear weapons development.
Now there are lawmakers who believe North Korea should be listed once again.
Through a recent bipartisan effort, six Republican and six Democratic senators wrote a letter to the State Department on behalf of Otto Warmbier’s parents, urging that North Korea be added, according to USA Today. Warmbier was a college student who died after being detained in North Korea.
In a New York Times op-ed, Cruz pointed out several reasons why North Korea should be re-listed, including its involvement with Iran to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and its support of Syria’s chemical weapons program.
If North Korea is again declared a state sponsor of terrorism, it would join Iran, Syria and Sudan, which have remained on the list for decades.