Reuters was informed on Monday that a United Nations (UN) confidential report showed that North Korea used "large and increasingly complex" cyber attacks to steal funds from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges for its weapons of mass destruction projects. It is estimated to have received $2 billion.
In the past six months, an independent expert has been responsible for monitoring related matters. In his report to the UN Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions Committee, Pyongyang also “continues to strengthen its nuclear and missile program inputs, even though it has not yet conducted nuclear tests or ICBM (intercontinental Ballistic missiles are launched."
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The DPRK mission to the United Nations did not respond to requests for comment on the report to the Security Council last week.
The experts said that North Korea "uses cyberspace to launch increasingly sophisticated attacks, stealing funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges to generate revenue." The report said they also use cyberspace to launder money.
"North Korea’s network activists, most of whom are obeyed by the North Korean Reconnaissance Directorate, have raised funds for their WMD (WMD) program, and the total revenue so far is expected to be as high as $2 billion."
The General Reconnaissance Agency is the highest military intelligence agency in North Korea.
Experts say they are investigating "at least 35 North Korean activists attacking financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and mining activities" in about 17 countries. The goal of these activities is to earn foreign currency.
According to UN experts, North Korea’s attack on cryptocurrency exchanges has enabled it to “create revenue in ways that are more difficult to track and less regulated by the government than traditional banking.”
Since 2006, the Security Council has unanimously agreed to impose sanctions on North Korea in an attempt to prevent funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile projects. The Council bans exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and restricts imports of crude oil and refined oil.
US President Trump has met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un three times. The most recent time in June this year, Trump became the first incumbent US president to visit North Korea in the demilitarized zone between the DPRK and the ROK.
They agreed to hold talks again on Pyongyang’s plan to abandon nuclear weapons. The talks have not yet begun. In July and early August, North Korea conducted three short-range missile tests in eight days.
When asked about the UN report, a US State Department spokesman said:
"We call on all reliable countries to take action against North Korea's malicious network activities. This activity provides revenue for North Korea's illegal weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs."