"U.S. economic sanctions are imposed against North Korea for five primary reasons: (1) North Korea is seen as posing a threat to U.S. national security; (2) North Korea is designated by the Secretary of State as a state sponsor or supporter of international terrorism; (3) North Korea is a Marxist-Leninist state, with a Communist government; (4) North Korea has been found by the State Department to have engaged in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and (5) North Korea has been found by the President to have detonated a nuclear explosive device. The United States has also taken steps to isolate the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia for counterfeiting and money-laundering activities, actions North Korea has characterized as attacks against it. In accordance with U.S. law, the United States limits some trade, denies trade in dual-use goods and services, limits foreign aid, and opposes entry into or support from international financial institutions. At the President's discretion, North Korea would also be subject to the economic sanctions pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, under which the administration has identified North Korea as a 'country of particular concern' since 2001, and pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, under which the administration has classified North Korea in the category of most severe offender (Tier 3) since 2003."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31696