President Trump announced on Monday that “the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.” The designation, he said, “will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons, and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime that you’ve all been reading about and, in some cases, writing about.” North Korea is joining Iran, Sudan and Syria as designated state sponsors of terrorism.
The Treasury Department will be announcing additional sanctions on Tuesday, which President Trump claimed would “be the highest level of sanctions by the time it’s finished over a two-week period.”
According to the State Department’s website, countries determined to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: the Export Administration Act, the Arms Export Control Act, and the Foreign Assistance Act. Such a designation results in restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales, certain controls over exports of dual use items, and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. However, North Korea has little to lose in those respects, given that it is already so heavily sanctioned by the United States that there is a lack of any direct trade with or assistance from the United States today. What is important is that, as the State Department’s website explains, the designation “also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors.” The latter would provide President Trump with an additional tool to use in imposing secondary sanctions on countries or firms doing business with North Korea. China is undoubtedly taking notice.