State Sponsors of Terrorism

Korea Times

Despite Pyongyang’s ardent plea, Washington has recently decided to retain North Korea on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. In its annual report called “Patterns of Global Terrorism,” the United States stipulated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, along with Iran, Cuba, Syria and Sudan. However, the U.S. State Department has considerably reduced and revised the grounds for designating it as a terrorism-sponsoring state, opening the way for dropping Pyongyang from it.

In other words, Washington is hinting if the North shows sincerity in abiding by the Feb. 13 agreement on denuclearization, it could de-listing Pyongyang from the list. The latest U.S. decision to keep the North on the list appears to reflect Washington’s judgment that actual situations in the Stalinist country have not changed much, although Pyongyang has persistently called for its exclusion from the list since the landmark agreement.

Everyone knows now the frozen funds at the Banco Delta Asia have obstructed the implementation of the Feb. 13 agreement. Still it is clear what Pyongyang has to do to extricate itself out of the current doldrums and move further towards being dropped from the list: Put the Feb. 13 accord into action without delay. The reclusive regime should show visible actions, such as inviting back international inspectors to its Yongbyon reactor site, indicating Pyongyang thinks the BDA issue has all but been settled.

It is not hard to understand North Korea’s position, but doing nothing only citing the BDA funds would solve nothing. Pyongyang should explain its current circumstances to the international society and ask for its help. By keeping to its original stance of linking the initial steps to the funds issue, the isolationist regime will have little to gain, only deepening its isolation from the rest of the world.

Aside from North Korea, South Korea needs to take issue with the U.S. State Department’s annual report that erased the part that “the South Korean government estimates about 485 persons were kidnapped or detained by North Korea since the Korean War (1950-53).” Washington, which must be well aware of two Koreas being at odds over the POW and abductee issue, has all but raised the ire of Pyongyang by removing the part on South Korean abductees. This would have a negative effect on Seoul if and when the two Koreas retake this issue.

The U.S. action comes as all the more regrettable, considering it has retained the Japanese abductee issue in close linkage to excluding Pyongyang from the list. The government should ask for a proper explanation and call for its correction.

And from the US State Department:

North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987. The DPRK continued to harbor four Japanese Red Army members who participated in a jet hijacking in 1970. The Japanese government continued to seek a full accounting of the fate of the 12 Japanese nationals believed to have been abducted by DPRK state entities; five such abductees have been repatriated to Japan since 2002. In the February 13, 2007 Initial Actions Agreement, the United States agreed to “begin the process of removing the designation of the DPRK as a state-sponsor of terrorism.”

(no mention of Myanmar, with which the DPRK just re-established diplomatic relations)


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