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State Sponsors of Terrorism, the “Axis of Evil,” and “Outposts of Tyranny”

The U.S. Secretary of State gives this designation to countries it has determined have been involved in repeated acts of international terrorism. These countries have strict sanctions imposed on them by the United States. Four are on the current list: Iran (since 1984), North Korea (since 1988), Sudan (since 1993), and Syria (since 1979). Over the years, four countries have been removed: Libya (1979–2006); Iraq (1979–1982; 1990–2003), South Yemen (1979–1990), and Cuba (1982–2015).

“Axis of Evil”

“Axis of Evil” was used by George W. Bush in his Jan. 2002 State of the Union Address to describe three countries engaged in terrorism: Iran, Iraq, and North Korea:

“States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.”

Outposts of Tyranny

In Jan. 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice identified six countries as “outposts of tyranny:” Zimbabwe, Iran, Belarus, Myanmar, Cuba, and North Korea.


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