The United States has not decided whether to put North Korea back on a blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, but its status is regularly reviewed, a top US official said Friday.
The comments came as the US House of Representatives Friday overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning North Korea’s nuclear test earlier this week, and urging the administration to apply all available sanctions to Pyongyang.
North Korea will also likely be raised in talks next week in Washington between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama.
The White House said in a statement Friday that Obama was looking “forward to in-depth discussions” with Abe on a range of bilateral and global issues as well as “the US-Japan security alliance, economic and trade issues.”
North Korea was added to the State Department’s blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism on January 20, 1988, following the bombing by its agents of a KAL plane on November 29, 1987 which killed all 115 on board.
But it was removed in October 2008 under then president George W. Bush, when the State Department said the North was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since that bombing.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told journalists Friday there was nothing new to reveal, but stressed the US constantly reviews intelligence “to determine whether the facts would put them back in that category.”
Under US law a country can only be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism if the secretary of state determines that the government “has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” she said.
Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen put the bipartisan draft bill before the House which implicitly calls for Pyongyang to be redesignated a state sponsor of terrorism — an exclusive club which includes Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “has made his priorities clear: to obtain a nuclear weapon and to proliferate nuclear technology with rogue regimes, such as Iran and Syria,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.