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North Korea: Evil, but Not a Terrorist State

May 4, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

President Barack Obama plans to remove Cuba’s official designation as a terrorist state. Congressional hawks are grumbling, but they can’t stop him. The move is long overdue—and is a good argument against those who want to put North Korea back on the list.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) remains a most troublesome country. Delisted in 2008 by George W. Bush in an attempt to reach an agreement over nonproliferation, the DPRK has continued its policy of brinkmanship highlighted by occasional missile and nuclear tests. Ruled by the grandson of the North’s founder, North Korea has become the world’s first Communist monarchy. The country is also a human-rights horror.

President Barack Obama never believed there was much chance of changing Pyongyang’s behavior. The administration attempted to ignore first Kim Jong-il and now Kim Jong-un. The North made that difficult, staging missile and nuclear tests, sinking a South Korean naval vessel and bombarding a South Korean island, and arresting American visitors for various alleged crimes. Even then, Washington made little effort to pursue serious negotiations, especially after Kim fils shot off a rocket shortly after agreeing to freeze missile and nuclear development in the so-called Leap Day deal of 2012. The North is not alone at fault in the dreary history of U.S.-North Korean relations, but the administration’s pessimism is well justified.

Calling North Korea a terrorist sponsor might offer emotional release, but won’t make the claim true.”

Ideas for dealing with Pyongyang range from initiating diplomatic relations to tightening sanctions to enlisting China to “solve” the problem. None look particularly promising in changing the DPRK.

Gaining renewed attention is the idea of relisting Pyongyang as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” or SSOT. North Korean attacks on the South in 2010 led to calls to put the North back on the terrorism list. The campaign was revived by the hacking of Sony Pictures last fall, apparently by North Korea.

The administration eventually responded by tightening some sanctions, but did nothing substantial enough for the DPRK to notice. In practice, it is difficult to make the North pay a high price, so long as China insulates Pyongyang from outside pressure. While the Xi government appears irritated, even angry, with its small neighbor, Beijing is not yet willing to risk its relationship with North Korea, or the latter’s stability, by ramping up the pressure.

In January, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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