President Donald Trump has designated North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, returning the country to the list after its removal back in 2008 by former president George W. Bush.
The renewed designation comes amid reports that North Korea has also banned “any gatherings related to drinking, singing and other entertainment.”
“Today the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism,” Trump said, according to The New York Times. “Should have happened a long time ago.”
The renewed designation means that additional sanctions could be coming, though some experts said that it is largely symbolic, as plenty of sanctions are already on the books, Reuters reported.
Bush’s original removal was an attempt to temper relations in an effort to secure a nuclear deal. As the Times reported back in 2008, the Bush administration was trying to save a deal that was in the works and in danger of collapsing.
In the end, the attempt fell through (you can see a timeline here).
— Department of State (@StateDept) November 20, 2017
It’s important to note, though, that Bush wasn’t underestimating the problem. In fact, in 2002, he called Iran, Iraq and North Korea part of his “axis of evil,” claiming that each country posed a grave threat.
Still, North Korea ended up off the list — something that Trump decided to change with his major move on Monday.
Trump said that he believes the North Korean regime is guilty of “acts of international terrorism” and that the country is engaging in “unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile development.”
“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump said.
The president’s action comes amid reports that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has banned civilians from events that are based around drinking, singing and entertainment, a bizarre new crackdown that was revealed by South Korean intelligence, Newsweek reported.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported the following:
The NIS also reported that the North has been focusing on forestalling a possible negative impact of the tightening international sanctions on public sentiment. The isolated state has been under crippling sanctions due to its provocations, including its sixth and most powerful nuke test on Sept. 3.
“(Pyongyang) has devised a system whereby party organs report people’s economic hardships on a daily basis, and it has banned any gatherings related to drinking, singing and other entertainment and is strengthening control of outside information,” the NIS said.
The spy agency, in addition, said that it has been closely watching the possibility of a new missile test by the North this year to escalate its threat to the United States under the disguise of peaceful space development.
Read more about the horrific conditions inside North Korea here.