U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. has designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism nine years after it was delisted.
Trump made the announcement Monday during a meeting with his Cabinet, saying that it should have happened a long time ago.
He said that in addition to threatening the world with nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil.
Trump said the designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and support the U.S.' maximum pressure campaign to isolate the rogue regime.
North Korea was put on the list for the first time in 1988 following its bombing of a Korean Air flight the previous year. It was then removed from the list in 2008 as Pyongyang agreed to move toward denuclearization.
The U.S. State Department began designating countries involved in terrorist activities or which support terror groups as state sponsors of terrorism since 1978.
Countries on the list are sanctioned under U.S. domestic laws related to exports, foreign aid, financial transactions and trade. These countries are labeled as "rogue nations" and isolated from the international community. Iran, Syria and Sudan are also currently on the U.S. blacklist.
A day after North Korea was re-listed, the Treasury Department revealed new sanctions against North Korean and Chinese entities, banning them from accessing the U.S. financial system.
The Treasury said Tuesday it is sanctioning 20 North Korean vessels and nine North Korean entities which either own or operate the ships, or are supervising agencies.
The sanctions list also includes Chinese national Sun Sidong and his company Dandong Dongyuan Industrial, which is believed to have supplied machinery and components for North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development.
Three other trading companies based in Dandong in northeastern China have also been sanctioned.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. is sanctioning shipping and transportation companies as well as their vessels for facilitating North Korea's trade and its deceptive shipping practices.
The terror designation followed by a new round of sanctions appears to show that Washington's response to the nuclear issue has once again shifted toward sanctions and pressure.
In particular, the latest sanctions seek to blockade the North's maritime trade, an important income source for the Kim Jong-un regime. The U.S. expects the sanctions will be effective as much of Pyongyang’s global trade relies on maritime logistics.
Meanwhile, North Korea has lashed out at the U.S. designation and fresh new sanctions.
In an interview published Wednesday, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson told the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency that the designation was a "means to crush independent nations that do not submit" to the U.S.
The spokesperson said the North's nuclear arms are a deterrent to protect its right to existence and progress as an independent state against Washington's anti-North Korea policy.
The spokesman vowed that Pyongyang will strengthen its force of deterrence as long as Washington continues hostile actions against the North.