Larry A. Niksch
Specialist in Asian Affairs
The issue of North Korea's inclusion on the U.S. list of terrorism-supporting countries has been a major issue in U.S.-North Korean diplomacy since 2000, particularly in connection with negotiations over North Korea's nuclear program. North Korea demanded that the Clinton and Bush Administrations remove North Korea from the terrorism support list.
On June 26, 2008, President Bush announced that he was officially notifying Congress of his intent to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism after the 45 calendar-day notification period to Congress as required by U.S. law. The White House stated an intention to remove North Korea on August 11, 2008. This announcement was part of the measures the Bush Administration took on June 26 to implement a nuclear agreement that it negotiated with North Korea in September 2007 and finalized details of in April 2008 at a U.S.-North Korean meeting in Singapore. The President also announced that he was immediately lifting sanctions on North Korea under the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act. North Korea's obligations under this nuclear agreement are to allow the disabling of its plutonium facility at Yongbyon and present to the United States and other government in the six party talks a declaration of its nuclear programs. North Korea submitted its declaration on June 26, 2008.
However, in July 2008, the Bush Administration proposed a system of intrusive international inspections of North Korean nuclear facilities or suspected nuclear facilities. North Korea rejected the proposal, suspended the disablement of Yongbyon, and threatened to resume operations of its nuclear facilities. In October 2008, the Administration negotiated a more limited verification-inspection system with North Korea. On October 11, 2008, the Administration removed North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Secretary of State Clinton said on June 7, 2009, that the Obama Administration would consider reinstating North Korea on the list of state supporters of terrorism. However, she said that there would have to be "recent evidence of their support for international terrorism."
The Bush Administration increasingly took the position that the issue of North Korea's kidnapping of Japanese citizens was not linked to removing North Korea from the terrorism list, from the standpoint of U.S. law or policy. The Japanese government objected to the removal of North Korea. The State Department continued to declare that North Korea had not committed a terrorist act since 1987. However, reports from French, Japanese, South Korean and Israeli sources described recent North Korean programs to provide arms and training to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, two groups on the U.S. list of international terrorist organizations. Large quantities of North Korean arms bound for Iran, intercepted in 2009, contained weapons that Iran supplies heavily to Hezbollah and Hamas. Moreover, a large body of reports describe a long-standing, collaborative relationship between North Korea and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps that has continued throughout 2009.
Date of Report: January 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 32
Order Number: RL30613
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Thursday, January 14, 2010
Larry A. Niksch