North Korea expands its nuclear program and benefits from cyberattacks: UN | Nuclear Weapons News

North Korea has continued to expand its nuclear and ballistic missile programs over the past year, and cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges have been a major source of revenue for Pyongyang, according to an excerpt from a report. UN confidential seen by Reuters news agency on Saturday.

The independent sanctions monitors’ annual report was submitted to the United Nations Security Council sanctions committee against North Korea on Friday evening.

“Although no nuclear tests or launches of ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) were reported, the DPRK has continued to develop its nuclear fissile material production capability,” the experts wrote.

North Korea is officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Nuclear testing and ballistic missile launches have long been banned by the UN Security Council.

“Maintenance and development of the DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure continued, and the DPRK continued to seek equipment, technology and know-how for these programs overseas, including through through computational means and joint scientific research,” the report said.

Since 2006, North Korea has been under UN sanctions, which the Security Council has tightened over the years in an effort to target funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Sanctions monitors noted there had been a “marked acceleration” of missile testing by Pyongyang.

The United States and others said Friday that North Korea conducted nine ballistic missile launches in January, adding that it was the highest monthly number in the history of weapons of mass destruction programs. and missiles of the country.

“The DPRK has demonstrated increased rapid deployment capabilities, high mobility (including at sea) and improved resilience of its missile forces,” the sanctions monitors said.

North Korea’s UN mission in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cyberattacks, illicit trade

The monitors said that “cyberattacks, especially on cryptocurrency assets, remain an important source of revenue” for North Korea and that they had received reports that North Korean hackers continued to target people. financial institutions, cryptocurrency companies and exchanges.

“According to one member state, DPRK cyber actors stole more than $50 million between 2020 and mid-2021 from at least three cryptocurrency exchanges in North America, Europe and Asia,” the report said.

Monitors also cited a report released last month by cybersecurity firm Chainalysis that North Korea launched at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms that mined nearly $400 million in assets. digital last year.

In 2019, UN sanctions monitors reported that North Korea had generated around $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programs using widespread and increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.

The latest report says North Korea’s strict blockade in response to the COVID-19 pandemic means “illicit trade, including that of luxury goods, has largely ceased.”

Over the years, the UN Security Council has banned North Korean exports, including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capped imports of crude oil and products. refined petroleum.

“Although seaborne coal exports from the DPRK increased in the second half of 2021, they were still at relatively low levels,” the observers said.

“The amount of illicit imports of refined oil increased sharply over the same period, but at a level much lower than in previous years,” the report said. “Direct delivery by non-DPRK tankers to the DPRK has ceased, likely in response to COVID-19 measures: instead, only DPRK tankers delivered oil.”

North Korea’s humanitarian situation “continues to worsen”, the report said.

Observers said this was likely due to the COVID-19 blockade, but a lack of information from North Korea meant it was difficult to determine the extent to which UN sanctions were unintentionally harming civilians. .

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