WASHINGTON – The United States is looking into putting North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism in response to its nuclear test last month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview on Sunday.

We're going to look at it. There's a process for it. Obviously we would want to see recent evidence of their support for international terrorism, she said on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Asked whether she had evidence of the North's support for international terrorism, Clinton said: We're just beginning to look at it. I don't have an answer for you right now.

The United States removed North Korea from its terrorism blacklist in October in a bid to revive faltering six-nation denuclearization talks that have completely broken down.

The impoverished Communist-ruled Asian nation was taken off the list after agreeing to a series of verification measures at its nuclear facilities. It has been condemned internationally since its defiant May 25 nuclear test.

Obviously they were taken off of the list for a purpose, and that purpose is being thwarted by their actions, Clinton said.

Coming off the list meant North Korea could better tap into international finance and see some trade sanctions lifted -- benefits that would be reversed, although other sanctions have remained as a result of its first nuclear test in 2006.


Clinton said she expected a strong sanctions resolution against North Korea to emerge from the U.N. Security Council, with the backing of China and Russia, which previously balked at such measures and hold veto powers on the council.

I think what is going somewhere is additional sanctions in the United Nations -- arms embargo, other measures taken against North Korea with the full support of China and Russia, she said in reference to the ongoing U.N. deliberations.

Clinton said the United States would work hard to cut off the flow of money to North Korea.

If we do not take significant and effective action against the North Koreans now, we'll spark an arms race in Northeast Asia. I don't think anybody wants to see that, she said.

And so part of what we're doing is again, sharing with other countries our calculus of the risks and the dangers that would lie ahead if we don't take very strong action.

Renewed tensions over North Korea's nuclear program coincide with the trial in recent days of two U.S. female journalists held in Pyongyang.

Analysts say the pair, who were working for the Current TV network co-founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, have become bargaining chips in negotiations with the United States.

Clinton appealed to the North to free the two women, saying their case was a humanitarian issue and must be viewed separately from the nuclear dossier.

We think that the charges against these young women are absolutely without merit or foundation. We hope the trial ends quickly, it's resolved and they're sent home.

Clinton also said she was following very closely reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has signaled the appointment of his youngest son as heir to the country's ruling family dynasty.