According to some news reports:

The designation of state sponsor of terror was removed from North Korea by President George W. Bush in 2008. North Korea was named among the ‘axis of evil’ countries allegedly supporting terror that were named by Bush in his 2002 State of the Union address.

What were the (stated) reasons of the Bush administration for removing NK from the sponsors of terror list? (Side note: Trump reinstated NK to the list in 2017.)


The reason(s) can be gleaned from the previous year's Country Reports on Terrorism, released (regularly) by the State Department. Basically, it says that (1) NK hadn't sponsored a terrorist attack in a long time (it happened to be a 20 years anniversary) and (2) the US had formally committed to [at least envisaging] this step as part of the nuclear deal then pursued.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987. The DPRK continued to harbor four Japanese Red Army members who participated in a jet hijacking in 1970. The Japanese government continued to seek a full accounting of the fate of the 12 Japanese nationals believed to have been abducted by DPRK state entities; five such abductees have been repatriated to Japan since 2002. In the February 13, 2007 Initial Actions Agreement, the United States agreed to "begin the process of removing the designation of the DPRK as a state-sponsor of terrorism."

The full text of the latter agreement can be found (nowadays) only a Japanese official site (they were part of the six participants). In return (for this a quite a few other carrots) NK promised to fully renounce its nuclear programs:

[...] includes provision by the DPRK of a complete declaration of all nuclear programs and disablement of all existing nuclear facilities, including graphite-moderated reactors and reprocessing plant [...]

which of course they didn't do... Wikipedia has a longer article on the six party talks and how they eventually flopped. Basically the NK issued a declaration of programs that the US said was incomplete, and so it didn't release the aid promised (among the carrots). In response NK resumed missile and nuclear tests... as well a military confrontation with South Korea.

Of some interest in regard to the terrorism designation, the Obama administration decided that the subsequent [mostly naval] confrontations with South Korea were purely military, and thus did not add NK back to the terrorism list. Trump added NK back to the list after the assassination (with the nerve agent VX) of Kim Jong-Nam in Malaysia; at least assassination(s) abroad were mentioned in the Trump statement:

“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump said.


Looks like another entry in the fool's game of we'll-be-nice-to-you-if-you-stop-your-nukes with NK.

Google "bush north korea terrorism remove nuclear 2008" and you'll find hits right away. A fair bit of hits are behind paywalls or nagwalls though.

Financial Times 2008


In early June 2008, the United States agreed to start lifting restrictions after North Korea began the disarming process. President Bush announced he would remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism after North Korea released a 60-page declaration of its nuclear activities. Shortly thereafter North Korean officials released video of the demolition of the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, considered a symbol of North Korea's nuclear program. The Bush administration praised the progress, but was criticized by many, including some within the administration, for settling for too little. The document released said nothing about alleged uranium enrichment programs or nuclear proliferation to other countries

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