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The 4 current Rogue States

The term "rogue state" goes back to the US government under George W. Bush, which used it to describe aggressive states that threaten either the USA itself or its allies. Although the term was new, the concept of the exclusion of dangerous nations was introduced in 1994. The first countries to be considered "Rogue States" were North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Iraq and Libya.

Currently, 4 countries are considered rogue states. The definition of the rogue state is determined exclusively by the US government and mainly includes countries that support terrorism or use or develop weapons of mass destruction.
CountrySinceRegionAreaPopulation
Iran1984South Asia1,745,150 km²82.9 M
North Korea2017East Asia120,540 km²25.7 M
Sudan1993Northern Africa1,879,358 km²42.8 M
Syria1979Western Asia185,180 km²17.1 M


International importance

The origin of the term and the political orientation go back exclusively to the USA and are not an internationally recognized criterion. Although organisations such as the United Nations or the European Union have issued sanctions against these states, this has not led to the same classification.

The fact that the list of rogue states is not internationally binding is also apparent from the reasons for the inclusion and deletion of individual nations. For example, Cuba was listed as a rogue state from 1982 to 2015 and was only removed from the list because diplomatic relations were resumed. Other nations, however, had nothing to do with this. Also, in the case of Libya (2006), the fact that Muammar al-Gaddafi publicly spoke out against terrorism alone was enough to remove it. North Korea was not considered a rogue state from 2008 to 2017 because the US assumed that North Korea had ended its nuclear program.

Distinction from Pariah States

The definition of the rogue states is quite similar to that of the pariah states, but should not be equated. Pariah states are neither firmly defined, nor are they forcibly directed against the USA or any other state.

Former rogue states