Programs

North Korea expands nuclear and missile programs, benefits from cyberattacks: UN report

CYBER ATTACKS, 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.

Observers 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 US$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.”

The humanitarian situation in North Korea “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. .