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Sen. Cruz Introduces Legislation to Re-Designate North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism

Files companion bill to Rep. Ted Poe’s H.R. 479

March 17, 2017



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today announced his intention to introduce legislation next week to re-list North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, companion legislation to H.R. 479 sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe in the U.S. House of Representatives. Original Senate co-sponsors include Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

“Nearly a decade ago, the United States de-listed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a state sponsor of terrorism in exchange for guarantees to give up its nuclear program,” Sen. Cruz said. “Much like the ill-fated 1994 ‘Agreed Framework’ that gave North Korea nuclear technology, the result of this deal was a disaster: Kim Jong-un oversaw two nuclear tests and over twenty ballistic missile tests last year alone, and has persisted in utilizing terror as an instrument of state policy. I welcome Secretary Tillerson's distancing U.S. policy from the Obama administration’s "strategic patience" approach and look forward to working with the Trump administration to chart a more stable, secure future for Northeast Asia. Now is the time to bring added financial pressure to Pyongyang and hold them accountable for their actions. I’m honored to work with Judge Poe who is leading the effort in the House, and my Senate colleagues who have co-sponsored this important legislation.” 

"North Korea is a terror state that has launched cyber-attacks on US companies, sold weapons to terrorist groups, and murdered hundreds of innocent people, both within North Korea and abroad, whom are viewed as a threat to the regime,” Rep. Poe said. “Time and again this dangerous regime has proven to be a real threat to both the United States and our allies. That is why we must take this threat seriously and designate Pyongyang as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. My bill, the North Korea State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act of 2017, requires the Administration to look at the evidence and make a determination on whether or not North Korea should be designated. I applaud Senator Cruz for leading the effort in the Senate and urge Congress and the President to act on this immediately.”

Sen. Cruz first called for re-listing North Korea in a letter to President Obama in February 2016 and last month wrote a letter along with Sens. Gardner, Tillis, Rubio, Toomey, and Daines to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, requesting him to investigate re-designating North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Additionally, the senator has introduced legislation that calls for designating the Iran Revolutionary Guard and Muslim Brotherhood as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

At the time North Korea was first delisted, it refused to return captured Japanese Red Army hijackers to Japan, never returned abducted Japanese and South Koreans kidnapped by North Korea in their home countries, and never accounted for kidnapping of now deceased Rev. Kim Dong-shik. 

Most recently, the authoritarian regime enlisted the assassination of DPRK dictator Kim Jong-un’s own half-brother on foreign soil: Kim Jong-nam was assassinated in a Malaysian airport utilizing the internationally-banned nerve agent VX, the most toxic chemical weapon in existence. 

Additionally, since being removed in 2008, North Korea:


  • Conducted “cyber-terror targeting” of South Korean nuclear power plants in 2014 that was intended to cause reactor malfunctions.
  • Was found by a United States district court in 2014 to have materially supported Hezbollah’s terrorist activities in 2006. 
  • Conducted a cyber-attack against Sony pictures in 2014, threatening “9/11-type attacks” against U.S. theaters that show the film.
  • Jammed GPS signals in May 2012 affecting hundreds of civilian airliners flying in and out of South Korea.
  • Utilized a DPRK agent to plot the assassination of a dissident activist based in South Korea. The agent was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in 2012 by a South Korean court.
  • Utilized two DPRK General Reconnaissance Bureau agents who were arrested and sentenced in 2010 for the attempted assassination of a high-level North Korean defector.


The full text of the legislation can be viewed here.

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