The following is the June 11, 2018 Congressional Research Service report, North Korea: Legislative Basis for U.S. Economic Sanctions.
From the Report:
U.S. economic sanctions imposed on North Korea are instigated by that country’s activities related to weapons proliferation, especially its tests since 2006 of nuclear weapons and missile technology; regional disruptions; terrorism; narcotics trafficking; undemocratic governance; and illicit activities in international markets, including money laundering, counterfeiting of goods and currency, and bulk cash smuggling. The sanctions have the following consequences for U.S.- North Korea relations:
- Trade is limited to food, medicine, and other humanitarian-related goods, all of which require a license. Imports from North Korea are prohibited as of June 2011; exports to North Korea of most U.S.-origin goods, services, or technology
are prohibited as of March 2016. Trade in luxury goods is banned. The Department of Commerce denies export licenses for reasons of nuclear proliferation, missile technology, U.N. Security Council requirements, and international terrorism.
- Arms sales and arms transfers are fully denied.
- Financial transactions are prohibited. U.S. persons are prohibited from providing financial services for the purpose of evading sanctions, or from providing financial services to a person or entity designated for sanctions. The President, in September 2017, authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to designate for sanctions any foreign financial institution that conducts or facilitates “any significant transaction on behalf of any [designated] person,” or “in connection with trade with North Korea.”
- North Korea is designated as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern by the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), effective December 9, 2016.
- U.S. new investment is prohibited, and investment in North Korea’s transportation, mining, energy, or financial sectors is prohibited. North Korea is also ineligible to participate in any U.S. government program that makes credit, credit guarantees, or investment guarantees available.
- U.S. foreign aid is minimal and mostly limited to refugees fleeing North Korea; broadcasting into the country; nongovernmental organization programs dedicated to democracy promotion, human rights, and governance; and emergency food aid. In past years, aid related to disabling and dismantling the country’s nuclear weapons program has been made available. By law, U.S. representatives in the international financial institutions (IFI) are required to vote against any support for North Korea due to its nuclear weapons ambitions and international terrorism. Human rights and environmental activities would also likely result in U.S. objections to North Korea’s participation in the IFI.
- U.S.-based assets are blocked for North Korean individuals, entities, and vessels designated by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). U.S. persons are prohibited from entering into trade and transaction with these designees and, most recently, foreign financial institutions could become subject to U.S. sanctions for facilitating transactions for designated persons.
- Kim Jong-un, the Korean Workers’ Party, and others—banks, shipping companies, seagoing vessels, state agencies, and other individuals affiliated with the state’s security regime—are identified as being among those engaged in illicit and punishable activities, possibly including nuclear or ballistic missile programs, undermining cybersecurity, censorship, and sanctions evasion. As a result, effective March 15, 2016, any of their assets under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons and entities are prohibited from entering into trade and transactions with the designees.
- U.S. travel requires a special validation passport issued by the State Department. Such passports are reserved only for travel in the U.S. national interest and are intended for professional reporters, officials with the American Red Cross or International Committee of the Red Cross, or those who have a “compelling humanitarian” justification.