North Korea uses stolen cryptocurrency to fund its missile program, UN report claims

Kim Jong-un North Korea DPRKTHE NORTH KOREAN MISSILE program has developed rapidly in the past year, partly due to an influx of stolen cryptocurrency, which has now become “an important revenue source” for Pyongyang, according to a United Nations report. The confidential report was produced for the United Nations’ Security Council, by a committee tasked with monitoring the impact of the supranational body’s sanctions on the North Korean economy.

The United Nations imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006, in response to its announcement that it possessed nuclear weapons. These sanctions have increased over the years, as Pyongyang has continued to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The sanctions have targeted the communist country’s export industry sectors, including fisheries, textiles, raw materials such as iron, lead and coal, as well as refined energy products.

Now a new report, produced for the United Nations Security Council, suggests that, not only have the sanctions failed to degrade Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile weapons programs, but that the latter actually saw a “marked acceleration” in 2021. The report was delivered last week to the United Nations Security Council by a committee tasked with monitoring the effects of international sanctions on North Korea. According to the Reuters news agency, which accessed the confidential report, it states that North Korea has been able to demonstrate “increased capabilities for rapid deployment, wide mobility (including at sea), and improved resilience of its missile forces”.

Much of this ability comes from funding derived through “cyberattacks, particularly on cryptocurrency assets”, which have now become “an important revenue source” for the North Korean government. These cyberattacks are conducted by North Korean hackers, who regularly target “financial institutions, cryptocurrency firms and exchanges”. According to the report, North Korean hackers were recently able to steal cryptocurrency valued at over $50 million, by attacking just three cryptocurrency exchanges in a period of just 18 months.

The United Nations report comes in the heels of another report, published last month by cybersecurity firm Chainalysis, which alleged that Pyongyang was able to acquire digital assets worth nearly $400 million in 2021 alone. That made 2021 one of the most successful years for North Korean government-sponsored hackers, according to the report. To this one must add cyberattacks that do not target cryptocurrency, which also generate foreign cash supplies for the North Korean government. These generate several hundred million dollars each year, according to research.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 07 February 2022 | Permalink

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