By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday proposed legislation to re-designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The move came in response to another nuclear test in North Korea earlier this week.
“I strongly condemn the latest nuclear test conducted by North Korea. This deliberate and provocative action by the North Korean regime is yet another display of the regime’s hostile intentions and is a reminder that Pyongyang is one step closer toward its goal of nuclear armament," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said in a press release that introduced a bill co-sponsored by eight other members of the House.
Ros-Lehtinen, former head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has long advocated a tougher approach toward Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "has made his priorities clear: to obtain a nuclear weapon and to proliferate nuclear technology with rogue regimes, such as Iran and Syria," she said.
"I call upon the Administration to take the appropriate action necessary to designate North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and stand in solidarity with our South Korean and Japanese allies," Ros-Lehtinen said.
The bill, "North Korea Sanctions and Diplomatic Nonrecognition Act of 2013," calls for the secretary of state to put North Korea back on the blacklist of terrorism-sponsoring countries.
Chances appear to be slim, however, that the bill will pass both chambers of Congress.
Many other U.S. lawmakers and government officials say the North Korean nuclear crisis is one thing and the terrorism-related blacklist is another.
"The terrorist listing of the DPRK (North Korea) had to do with terrorist activity," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters last week. "The nuclear activity is handled through the six-party talks process."
Some hawkish U.S. lawmakers proposed similar bills after North Korea's second nuclear test in 2009 and its deadly attacks on a South Korean warship and a border island in 2010. But the bills failed to pass Congress.
The U.S. designated North Korea as a terrorism-sponsoring state after a mid-air bombing in 1987 by the communist nation's agents of a Korean Air passenger jet.
Washington removed Pyongyang from the list in 2008 after some progress in nuclear talks.
The co-sponsors of Lehtinen's bill are Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Randy Weber (R-TX) and Jeff Duncan (R-SC).
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