President Donald Trump announces that the United States will designate North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


In 1988, Ronald Reagan placed North Korea on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. North Korea had done all manner of things to justify the listing but the final straw was the bombing of KAL Flight 858 that killed all 115 passengers and 11 crew members. In 2008, George Bush removed North Korea from the list in return for North Korea allowing international verification of its nuclear program.

That worked out well.

On his recent trip to Asia, President Trump hinted that North Korea would be returned to the terrorism list. Today he did.

President Trump on Monday officially designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, returning the rogue nation to a list from which it had been removed during the George W. Bush administration.

North Korea had been removed from the list under the George W. Bush administration in an attempt to salvage negotiations for a nuclear deal.

The president made the announcement at the White House on Monday morning. North Korea will join Sudan, Syria and Iran as countries that the State Department identifies as ones that have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

Practically, this will have little effect. North Korea is already sanctioned out the wazoo and there seems to be nothing in the state sponsor of terrorism designation that will really change the existing sanctions regime. The real impact is symbolic. And it is a symbolism that will not go down well in Pyongyang.