As North Korea returns to self-reliance to maintain its faltering state-run economy, experts said sanctioning the financial lifelines of regime leaders might put added pressure on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program.
"Washington and its allies should be calibrating sanctions that target the regime/party elites' financial lifeline," said Matthew Ha, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). "The critical entity that would affect change amongst North Korea's leadership are banks and financial institutions."
Ever since leader Kim Jong Un said at a party meeting in December that North Korea must cope with sanctions with self-reliance, Pyongyang has been mobilizing to reinforce self-sufficiency.
"There is no need to hesitate with any expectation of the U.S. lifting of sanctions," said Kim. He urged the nation to make a "frontal breakthrough to foil the enemies' sanctions and blockade by dint of self-reliance."
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