In fact, economic sanctions could actually be bolstering Pyongyang's business competitiveness as firms develop better methods of evading trade restrictions. That, in turn, boosts the rogue nation's economy, arguably enabling it to continue with its roundly-condemned weapons program.
"In the category of unintended negative consequences, the application of sanctions has led the North Korean regime to find new, better, innovative ways to do business" inside of China's marketplace, John Park, adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, told CNBC.
North Korean businesses who seek to procure technologies, along with other permitted and prohibited items, directly engage local Chinese middlemen who in turn charge a fee to their clients, Park said in a July testimony before a U.S. House committee.
With the imposition of more extensive sanctions against Pyongyang, the Chinese middlemen, instead of being "scared off," attempt to monetize the increased risk by charging higher fees. Sanctions ultimately attract more capable middlemen driven by the prospect of greater incentives, according to Park.
"You're creating more efficient markets for the North Korean regime to do its activity in the Chinese marketplace," he told CNBC.
"And we're likely to see some version of this continuing with the application of new sanctions."