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Is North Korea a Terrorist State?
By Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid
February 20, 2002

In a Washington Times column, its editor-at-large Arnaud DeBorchgrave criticized President Bush’s depiction of North Korea as evil. He claimed that, "North Korea hasn’t engaged in terrorism in several years and the glacier between North and South Korea continues to melt perceptibly. To call Pyongyang evil at this juncture can only jeopardize South Korea’s diplomatic efforts." In a follow-up story by David Sands, the Washington Times said that, "Mr. Bush’s ‘Axis of evil’ remark also did not play well in many foreign press accounts. The London Independent, in one typical remark among Europe’s mostly leftist press, called the president’s speech ‘distinctly disturbing.’" It’s not clear why the views of European leftists were so newsworthy.

In the report entitled, "Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999," submitted to the U.S. Congress in April 2000, the State Department said North Korea "maintains links" to Osama bin Laden and his network. The report also alleges that the North still harbors some of the hijackers of a Japan Airlines plane in 1970.

The report explained that North Korea "continued to provide safe haven to the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction members who participated in the hijacking of a Japanese Airlines flight to North Korea in 1970… In 1999 [North Korea] also attempted to kidnap in Thailand a North Korean diplomat who had defected the day before. The attempt led the North Korean Embassy to hold the former diplomat’s son hostage for two weeks. Some evidence also suggests [that North Korea] in 1999 may have sold weapons directly or indirectly to terrorist groups."

The most recent State Department report on terrorism adds, "Some evidence also suggests [North Korea] may have sold weapons directly or indirectly to terrorist groups during the year; Philippine officials publicly declared that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front had purchased weapons from North Korea with funds provided by Middle East sources." Our troops are now on the ground in the Philippines battling these terrorists.

John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for arms control, said at a recent international conference that, "We are concerned that (bin Laden) could have been trying to acquire a rudimentary biological weapons capability possibly with support from a state." He said that Libya, Syria, Iran and Sudan as well as North Korea have germ weapons programs.

Balbina Hwang of the Heritage Foundation noted that North Korea has been included on the list of states that sponsor terrorism since 1988, after North Korean agents blew up a South Korean airliner, killing 115 civilians. She said North Korea could begin to demonstrate its opposition to terrorism by deporting those Japanese Red Army hijackers. She said North Korea should negotiate a permanent peace treaty, reduce its conventional military forces along the demilitarized zone and its weapons of mass destruction, and return the remains of U.S. military personnel missing in action during the Korean War. Clearly, North Korea deserves membership in the axis of evil. It’s troubling to see a conservative newspaper whitewash this communist regime.

Reed Irvine can be reached at ri@aim.org