The U.S. House of Representatives voted to label North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism Monday amid rising tensions over the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
The legislation, which overwhelmingly passed by a 394 to 1 vote, calls on the State Department to list the Hermit Kingdom alongside other nations including Iran, Sudan and Syria.
“It’s high time we call out Lil’ Kim, the loose cannon of east Asia, for what he is: a terrorist in a terrorist state,” said Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), the bill’s author.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be tasked with accepting or rejecting the designation within 90 days of the bill becoming law. North Korea was removed from the list in 2008 as part of an agreement with the Bush administration that called on the country to limit its nuclear weapons program.
“It is not a matter of if, but when Kim Jong-Un will be brazen enough to attack one of our allies, or even the United States,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. “Only by calling our adversaries what they are so they know that America will be steadfast in its defense of freedom and liberty can we have a realistic hope of maintaining peace.”
A seperate resolution, which passed in a 398 to 3 vote Monday, also condemned North Korea’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
President Donald Trump, who is set to host a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping over North Korea’s actions soon, told the Financial Times Sunday that he plans to combat the issue irregardless of China’s support.
“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” Trump said. “China will either decide to help us with North Korea or they won’t. If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.”
Last Friday during a London press conference U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis simil stated that North Korea’s “reckless” actions must be stopped.
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“We will be working with the international community to address this, we’re doing so right now, we’re working through the United Nations, we’re working with our allies, and we’re working diplomatically including with those that we might be able to enlist in this effort to get North Korea under control,” Mattis said.
Tillerson also said earlier last month that the U.S. policy of “strategic patience” has ended, adding that military options are now on the table.
“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe that requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson remarked.
Experts warn that satellite images taken on March 25 indicate that North Korea is finishing final preparations for a sixth nuclear test.
The country, according to U.S. defense officials, also recently carried out a missile engine test likely related to intercontinental ballistic missile development.