For months, the Trump administration has pushed for more extreme measures against North Korea. Primary among them: an oil embargo.
National security adviser H. R. McMaster even said at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Dec. 3, "You can't shoot a missile without fuel, right?"
The U.S. has pressed for a full-out oil embargo on the Kim regime, specifically calling on China to turn off its supply line to the hermit kingdom.
But experts warn that could have a dire impact on the country's 25 million citizens. North Koreans rely heavily on oil for agricultural production. A cut to imported oil, experts warn, could lead to famine.
It would be the second famine to plague North Korea in recent memory; as many as 1 million people died during the 1990s due to widespread food shortages.
Experts also say Kim Jong-un likely has reserves of fuel in anticipation for an all-out embargo. Alternatively, the regime could switch to melted coal or other forms of hydrocarbons.