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The UN has been keeping an eagle eye on the funding of weapons programs in North Korea.
A report submitted by independent sanctions monitors to the United Nations reveals that North Korea is hacking crypto exchanges to fund weapons programs. According to monitors, North Korea has continued to use crypto and raids on foreign crypto exchanges to financially support its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs. According to Reuters, the matter is revealed in a leaked annual report by independent sanctions monitors submitted to the UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee on the 4th of January. Citing the report, Reuters states that “cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges were an important revenue source for Pyongyang.”
In the official report, the experts say that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), generally known as North Korea, has continuously developed its capability to produce nuclear fissile material. However, the reports explain that there has not been any nuclear tests or launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs.)
“Maintenance and development of DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure continued, and DPRK continued to seek material, technology and know-how for these programs overseas, including through cyber means and joint scientific research.”
North Korea Supports Weapons Programs with Funds from Cyberattacks
The UN has been keeping an eagle eye on the funding of weapons programs in North Korea. According to the sanctions monitors, there has been a “marked acceleration” of missiles testing by Pyongyang. Meanwhile, the US and others revealed last week that North Korea carried out the largest single-month ballistic missiles in January. Reports showed that North Korea conducted nine ballistic missile launches.
In addition, the monitors claim to have received information that hackers in North Korea are consistent in targeting financial institutions. Also, the report says that the hackers target crypto firms and exchanges. Specifically, the monitor notes that cyber hackers in North Korea stole over $50 million between 2020 and mid-2021. According to the report, the stolen funds came from a minimum of three crypto in Asia, Europe, and South America.
Furthermore, the monitors referenced a Chainalysis report that discusses the number of attacks North Korea has launched on crypto platforms. The report explains that North Korea has rolled out a minimum of seven attacks targeted at crypto platforms. Chainalysis estimates that the attacks led to the loss of $500 million worth of coins last year.
Meanwhile, the monitors said in 2019 that North Korea had generated $2 billion to fund its weapons of mass destruction. The monitors explained that the country could amass the funds through widespread and sophisticated cyberattacks.