The political economy of North Korea : implications for denuclearization and proliferation

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Haggard, Stephan, Noland, Marcus
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Despite North Korea's turn away from economic reform and the constraints of the second nuclear crisis, the country has in fact become more economically open. But it has emphasized closer economic relations with China and other trading partners that show little interest in political quid-pro-quos, let alone sanctions. Yet the US can still exercise economic leverage by going aggressively after third-party financial intermediaries. This particular form of sanction does not require multilateral coordination, since foreign banking institutions that conduct significant business in the United States have a strong interest in avoiding institutions that the U.S. Treasury has identified as money-laundering or proliferation concerns. There is some evidence that North Korea moderated its missile proliferation activities during periods when rapprochement with the United States, and to a lesser extent Japan, was a priority, but in the absence of such interest and as legitimate trade, investment, and aid dry up, the incentives to intensify proliferation activities increase.

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