The United States is considering a new tack in its efforts to counter the nuclear threat of Kim Jong Un's regime: declaring North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism.
White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster has cited the killing of Kim’s estranged half-brother, as an act of terrorism.
Two women charged with killing Kim Jong-nam revisited the crime scene in Malaysia this week. They are accused of rubbing the highly toxic VX nerve agent on the victim’s face at Kuala Lumpur airport.
Pyongyang has denied any involvement in the February 13 killing, but four men - believed to be North Koreans who fled Malaysia on the day of the murder - have also been charged in the case.
The State Department is expected to decide next week whether North Korea meets the criteria to return it to the list of state sponsors of terrorism, although the move would be largely symbolic.
The North is already heavily sanctioned for its nuclear and missile activity.
President Donald Trump is expected to continue his sharp criticism of the North during his 12-day trip to Asia, which begins Friday.
Trump and Kim have traded threats of war and personal insults against each other in recent months.
A North Korean defector on Wednesday told the US Congress that a domestic uprising could lead to the collapse of Kim's regime.
Thae Yong-Ho, one of the highest ranking officials to have defected in recent years, was testifying before the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives.
"While on the surface Kim Jong-Un seems to have consolidated his power through this reign of terror, simultaneously there are great and unexpected changes taking place within North Korea," said the former deputy ambassador to Britain, who fled to South Korea in August 2016.