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Biden govt. likely to seek incremental sanctions relief for N. Korea: CRS report

The US government appears to envision offering partial sanctions relief in exchange for North Korea taking denuclearization steps but such "incremental" sanctions relief would be difficult to move forward without congressional support, a congressional report showed Friday.

That is because the sanctions on the North are targeting not just the country's weapons development but also a host of other issues, such as human rights abuses, money laundering, international terrorism and cyber operations, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report said.

"The (Joe) Biden approach... appears to envision offering partial sanctions relief in exchange for partial steps toward denuclearization," the report said. "Incremental sanctions relief could be difficult to accomplish without congressional support."

"The possibility of sanctions relief is complicated by, among other factors, US legal requirements ... US sanctions on North Korea target not just weapons development but also human rights abuses, money laundering, weapons trade, international terrorism and cyber operations," it added.

The report said should talks between the North and the US restart, members of congress could debate "the merits of the Biden administration's apparent aim to push in the near term for incremental dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program in step with gradual sanctions relief."

The report also noted they will look into whether and how to push the administration "to more effectively shield humanitarian aid from the impact of sanctions."

Denuclearization talks have been stalled since a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then US President Donald Trump in early 2019 broke down as they failed to match Pyongyang's denuclearization steps with Washington's concessions, including sanctions relief.

In April, the Biden administration completed its monthslong policy review and said it would pursue a "calibrated, practical" approach toward the goal of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)