The North Korean regime is relying on a small network of suppliers to help it meet growing demand from the Middle East, China and the wider Asia-Pacific region, according to a report by a U.S. think-tank.
North Korea is also using the supply line to meet demand from Iran, which is also seeking to export oil and gas.
The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday unanimously approved new sanctions against Pyongyang for its ballistic missile and nuclear tests.
The sanctions have been condemned by the United States, Britain and France.
But North Korea has long used the supply network to circumvent international sanctions.
The North Korean government has made it clear that the regime is not interested in a new supply line.
The report by the Institute for Science and International Security says that in the past year, North Korea’s economic ties with Iran, the Chinese and the Gulf countries have increased.
“This trend is likely to continue,” the report said.
“As these relationships continue to develop, North Korean authorities have been actively promoting North Korean-Iranian cooperation to address regional and global security concerns, including Iran’s missile program and efforts to rearm.”
North Korea has used the system to supply its nuclear program, which it says is necessary to develop nuclear weapons.
But Western countries, including the United Kingdom and the United State, have accused the regime of failing to comply with UN Security Council resolutions banning its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.