North Korea has induced an estimated $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction program, used “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to loot from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, informed a confidential United Nations report.
Pyongyang “continued to enhance its nuclear and missile programmes although it did not conduct a nuclear test or ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) launch,” reads the UN report to the United Nations Security Council North Korea Sanctions Committee by individual experts handling compliance over the past 6-months.
The experts continued that North Korea “used cyberspace to launch increasingly sophisticated attacks to steal funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges to generate income.” They further used cyberspace to launder the stolen money, reads the UN report.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cyber-workers, most operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, has raised money for its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Programmes, with total proceeds to date evaluated at up to $2 billion, reads the report.
North Korea is officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Reconnaissance General Bureau is basically a top North Korean military intelligence agency.
The experts claim that they are probing “at least 35 reported instances of DPRK actors attacking financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and mining activity designed to earn foreign currency” in around 17 countries.
The United Nations experts said that the attacks of North Korea against cryptocurrency exchanges permitted it “to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector.”
The United Nations Security Council has unitedly imposed sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to block funding for nuclear and ballistic missile programs of Pyongyang. It has also banned exports, which includes – iron, coal, textiles, lead, seafood, and limited imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.
The United States President Donald Trump has met with North Korea counterpart Kim Jong-Un three times, most recently in June when he became the first sitting President of the United States to set foot in North Korea at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea.
They also agreed to restart stalled talks, objected at seeking Pyongyang to give-up its Nuclear Weapons Programme. The talks have yet to continue in early August, meantime, North Korea has carried out three short-range missile tests within the time span of 8-day.
When questioned about the UN report, a spokesperson of the US State Department was quoted saying, “We call upon all responsible states to take action to counter North Korean ability to conduct malicious cyber activity, which generates revenue that supports its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.”
It was completed before last week’s missile launches, but claims that the “missile launches in May and July enhanced its overall ballistic missile capabilities.”
The UN experts said that despite the diplomatic efforts, they begin “continued violations” of the UN Sanctions.
“For example, the DPRK continued to violate sanctions through ongoing illicit ship-to-ship transfers and procurement of WMD-related items and luxury goods,” added the UN report.