North Korean leader Kim Il-sung is seen on this 5000 North Korea won banknote in this photo taken in Shanghai May 23, 2013. -Reuters
SWIFT, the inter-bank money transfer system, said Friday it has cut off the last North Korean banks on the network, as international pressure mounts on Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
"The DPRK banks remaining on the network are no longer compliant with SWIFT's membership criteria. As a result, these entities will no longer have access to the SWIFT financial messaging service," the Brussels-based group said in a statement. "Given the increased ongoing international attention on the DPRK, SWIFT has informed the Belgian and EU authorities," it said, referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the country's official name.
The statement did not say how many North Korean banks were involved. The move is significant as it means North Korea no longer has access SWIFT's global financial transfer system, further isolating the already heavily-sanctioned country. The United States has led efforts to force Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, fearing that its ultimate aim is to be able to hit the US mainland.