The parents of the American student who died after being released from a North Korea prison are looking to get the State Department to add the country as a state sponsor of, according to a report.
Twelve senators — six Democrats and six Republicans — sent a letter to Secretary of Staterequesting North Norea be added to the State Department’s list at the urging of Warmbier’s parents. ABC News confirmed the State Department did receive the letter.
USA Today wasWarmbier’s parents were making the push.
“We have received the letter, are reviewing it, and will respond,” the State Department told ABC News.
There are currently only three countries officially on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism —, Syria and Sudan. The three countries have all spent decades on the list. Iran was added in 1984, Syria was added in 1979 and Sudan was added in 1993.
The official requirement says, “Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act.”
Warmbier’s parents requested North Korea be added to the list in a Fox News interview last month. The State Department said at the time that although they held North Korea accountable for‘s unjust imprisonment, the Secretary of State would have to determine the country provided support for international acts of terrorism to legally meet the standard.
Designation as a state sponsor of terrorism would result in sanctions, including “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions,” according to the State Department website.
North Korea is already under very strict sanctions asSecurity Council last month after the country conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.
“This is the strongest set of sanctions that the Security Council has imposed,” a U.S. official told ABC News at the time. “It represents yet another major step.”
Otto Warmbier died in June just six days after he was evacuated from North Korea upon his release from prison. Warmbier’s mother Cindy told Fox News last month that her son returned to the U.S. blind, deaf and “jerking violently” when taken off the plane.
Warmbier spent 17 months in captivity in North Korea. He had been convicted and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in January 2016 after he stole a propaganda poster.
Warmbier’s parents met with Sen., R.-Texas, on Wednesday and said he supported designating the country as a state sponsor of terrorism.
ABC News’ Conor Finnegan and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.