The dictatorship has continued to defy U.N. sanctions by modernizing its nuclear program and hacking U.N. financial institutions and virtual currency exchange houses to finance its efforts to develop weapons, experts said.
North Korea’s “total theft of virtual assets from 2019 to November 2020 is valued at approximately $316.4 million,” according to one unidentified country, the panel of experts monitoring sanctions on the Asian nation said in a report sent to U.N. Security Council members Monday.
The panel investigated North Korea’s top intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, over “the targeting of virtual assets and virtual asset service providers, and attacks on defense companies.”
The theft, while significant, is less than the $2 billion in assets North Korean hackers stole in 2019 to fund its nuclear capabilities, according to the panel.
Hackers’ efforts to attack U.N. financial systems continued into 2020. The efforts have allowed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to access fissile material — an essential ingredient for producing nuclear weapons — and maintain the nation’s nuclear facilities.
“[North Korea] displayed new short-range, medium-range, submarine-launched and intercontinental ballistic missile systems at military parades,” experts said in their Monday report.
Experts added that the nation “announced preparation for testing and production of new ballistic missile warheads and, development of tactical nuclear weapons … and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure.”
They are also recommending the Security Council impose sanctions on four North Korean men including Choe Song Chol, Im Song Sun, Pak Hwa Song, and Hwang Kil Su.
The Security Council has imposed sanctions on North Korea since its first nuclear explosion test in 2006, limiting its exports and imports in an effort to pressure the country to end its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. North Korea, however, has continued to defy sanctions and carry out its weapons development and “malicious cyber activities.”
The nation’s threat to the United States escalated in 2017 following tests that included a detonation of a purported thermonuclear warhead and…
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