Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday the United States is considering putting North Korea back on its list of countries that sponsor terrorism following Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.
In an interview with ABC television, Clinton also said Washington would do everything it can to stop shipments of North Korean nuclear materials and to shut off Pyongyang’s flow of money.
She was asked for a response to a letter from several US senators asking President Barack Obama to put Pyongyang back on the terror list, from which it was removed in October 2008 under former president George W. Bush.
“Well, we’re going to look at it,” she said.
“There’s a process for it. Obviously we would want to see recent evidence of their support for international terrorism,” she added. “We’re just beginning to look at it.”
Obama said Saturday that “North Korea’s actions over the last couple of months have been extraordinarily provocative.”
The North conducted its second nuclear test last month and defied international criticism by firing a volley of short-range missiles and threatening to attack the capitalist South.
At a press conference in Normandy, where Obama was visiting to mark the 65th D-Day anniversary, the president also said the UN Security Council is working toward a new resolution on North Korea.
He insisted even China and Russia, the two major powers closest to the North, were taking a tougher approach. “They understand how destabilizing North Korea’s actions are,” Obama said.
Clinton said the United States was working hard to create a mechanism that would allow for interdiction of suspect North Korean shipments, acknowledging that some countries had “legitimate concerns” about the precedent that would set.
But she said, “We will do everything we can to both interdict it and prevent it and shut off their flow of money.”
“If we do not take significant and effective action against the North Koreans now, we’ll spark an arms race in Northeast Asia.”
“And so part of what we’re doing is, again, sharing with other countries our calculus of the risks and the dangers that would lie ahead if we don’t take very strong action,” Clinton said.
Sixteen Republican senators called Wednesday for placing the communist regime back on the terror list, saying the North’s “provocative actions must have immediate consequences.”
Ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s “regime has never stopped supporting terrorism or joined meaningful negotiations,” said Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. “In fact, North Korea has done just the opposite and moved closer to equipping terrorists with nuclear weapons.”
DeMint and seven other lawmakers had sent a letter to Clinton a day earlier urging her to “immediately” place North Korea back on the blacklist.
Reinstating North Korea on the watchlist would reactivate sanctions liftedin October, when the United States said North Korea had agreed to steps to verify its nuclear disarmament and pledged to resume disabling its atomic plants.
Obama would be able to waive the designation if he certifies to the congress that North Korea has fully disclosed its nuclear activities, has not illegally spread nuclear or missile know-how, has not supported any terrorist groups, and has met other conditions.
North Korea was added to the blacklist on January 20, 1988, following the bombing by its agents of a KAL plane on November 29, 1987 which killed all 115 on board.
The State Department said late last year that the North was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since that bombing.