But a symbolic hostile gesture is still a hostile gesture, and analysts are warning that this move is likely to do further harm to any efforts to get negotiations with North Korea started, as it will encourage North Korea to retaliate with some move, and the United States will be even less willing to be seen communicating with "terrorists".
China, the North's sole ally, rejected the new sanctions as "wrong" on Wednesday.
The announcement delivered via the state media KCNA was the first official response to the sanctions which targeted one individual, 13 companies and 20 vessels, the US says are engaged in millions of dollars worth of trade with North Korea.
Analysts doubt if these measures will result in immediate capitulation of the regime of Kim Jong-Un to give up its nukes and missiles but hope that intensifying pressure may eventually leave him with no choice but to bow to the will of a broad array of nations demanding he stop threatening the world with death and destruction.
The decision was labelled a "serious provocation" by the North Korean regime. One of his favorite comments is the USA should have re-designated North Korea as a sponsor of terror "a long time ago" - that was a dig against Obama's policy of "strategic patience" in dealing with the North.
Rohingya facing ethnic cleansing
Tillerson stressed, however, that he wasn't advocating "broad-based economic sanctions" against the entire nation. Briefing reporters on the trip, Burke gave no details of how the Rohingya who will meet the pope would be chosen.
Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohoma and Kyoto are among the Japanese targets, while Seoul, Degu and Jongwon in South Korea are also identified.
Lately there has been some increased rhetoric regarding the continued situation in North Korea. In recent months, the North conducted its most powerful nuclear test yet and tested a pair of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could potentially reach the US mainland if perfected.
US diplomats responsible for negotiating with the North Koreans in previous years were by and large supportive of strong sanctions - and also of calling North Korea a "terror state".
Literally, it means North Korea would join Iran, Sudan and Syria on the list of state sponsors of terror.
In the country's first public response to its return to the American blacklist, the official Korean Central News Agency said North Korea has no connection to terrorism and does not care "whether the USA puts a cap of "terrorism" on us or not".
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