The North Korean regime acknowledged on Friday that newly imposed sanctions are having a tremendous impact on the isolated communist state.
The sanctions were described by North Korean state media as causing a “humanitarian disaster.”
The situation has gotten so bad for North Korea that it has launched a committee specifically assigned to assess the damage of the sanctions.
Earlier this month, there were already reports that gas supplies in North Korea were drying up, and that gas could be bought only by military and communist officials.
The latest round of sanctions specifically targeted the supply of natural gas and oil to North Korea as well as its exporting of textile products.
However, instead of scaling down its nuclear weapons program, and engaging in talks with the United States, North Korea is vowing not to abandon the weapons.
North Korea’s leaders “will never give up their treasured nuclear sword for justice which has been sharpened to defeat the U.S. imperialist aggressors,” North Korean state media said.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo said on Oct. 19 that the rogue regime is just months away from perfecting its nuclear weapons capabilities.
The North Korean population has been suffering for decades under the rule of the Kim family. Millions have died in famines and its centrally-planned communist economic model has stifled economic innovation and growth for years.
North Korea relies on slave labor both domestically and internationally for a significant portion of its income. A high-level defector speaking at the Asia Society earlier this week said there are an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 North Koreans working abroad, with the majority of their pay going to the North Korean regime.
The defector, Ri Jong Ho, who was an official for 30 years with the regime and has an intimate knowledge of the financial workings of North Korea, said all aid sent to the country goes the military.
North Korea also lacks the electricity production needed to provide factories and households with power.
But despite all this, North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Since coming to power in 2011, following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un has conducted an estimated 85 missile tests.
Estimates are that the cost of a single missile test by the regime is around $30 million.
New sanctions on the regime were imposed by the U.N. Security Council last month after pressure from the Trump administration.
Notably, China, which is estimated to account for 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, also put additional sanctions on North Korea.
China’s Central Bank instructed Chinese banks last month to stop providing financial services to North Korea, and also ordered North Korean businesses operating in China to close down within 120 days.
The unprecedented move by China came after months of pressure from President Donald Trump.
Since coming to office in January, Trump has sought to find a solution to the North Korean problem, demanding a denuclearization of the regime.
Trump has instructed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis. The Trump administration is working with around 20 other countries to increase economic pressure, which could hamper North Korea’s ability to pay for its nuclear program and force it to the negotiating table.
Trump is simultaneously using diplomatic, economic, and military options to keep the pressure on the regime, instructing his senior officers to draw up detailed military options for North Korea, which could be used if the United States has to defend itself or its allies.
Jack Keane, a retired four-star general and former Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, said that these military options by the Trump administration are making a diplomatic solution more realistic.
“Trump’s team understands that the threat of military force strengthens the diplomatic option. The main effort is diplomacy and economic sanctions,” Keane said on Fox Business.