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Sanctions regimes against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) primarily target the country's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. The DPRK continues to advance these programs, in violation of robust international economic and financial sanctions, with both the willful and inadvertent support of foreign persons and entities. The United Nations (UN) has raised concerns about the widespread presence of DPRK nationals in Africa and their involvement in prohibited activities, such as executing financial transactions on behalf of national entities, engaging in illicit trade of arms and dual-use commodities, maintaining links with legitimate financial institutions abroad through DPRK state-owned enterprise subsidiaries or joint ventures, and acquiring correspondent banking services for front companies and persons linked to DPRK proliferation efforts. A closer understanding of existing sanctions regimes imposed by the UN, European Union, and United States will support the adoption of more effective sanctions compliance and enforcement practices in government and the private sector. It will also help develop new government offices, agencies, and capabilities to provide national governments greater control and oversight of economic sectors that the DPRK and its affiliates seek to exploit.

This research was sponsored by the Department of State's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Office of Export Control Cooperation (ISN/ECC)'s Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program and by the International Security and Defense Policy Center (ISDP) within the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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