North Korea funding missile program through stolen crypto says UN report

It is also illicitly exporting coal through sea routes.
Ameya Paleja
North Korea carries on nuclear missile testingsGerasimov174/iStock

An investigative report submitted by experts at the United Nations (UN) has confirmed that North Korea is using profits from cyber attacks conducted in the cryptocurrency space to fund its missile program, the BBC reported

Formerly known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea has been conducting missile development and testing programs, even after the UN has imposed tough sanctions against the country. While the country has taken intriguing approaches to counter threats from its southern neighbor and Japan to its east, the pace of testing has increased since the turn of the new year. According to the BBC report, the country has conducted nine missile tests last month alone. 

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has already barred North Korea from testing ballistic and nuclear-capable missiles, The Independent reported, however, the country has continued to flout these restrictions. Apart from using joint scientific research programs, North Korea has resorted to using cyberattacks to gain technological know-how to advance its programs. 

The report submitted to the UN sanctions committee cited Lazarus Group, a cybercrime unit sponsored by the North Korean state as the perpetrator behind seven major digital attacks, The Independent reported. North Korea has also been accused of illegal cyber activities in 2019 when the UNSC noted that it had made two billion dollars from such activities conducted over three years. 

The UN investigation also follows an independent analysis report released last month that alleged that cybercriminals from North Korea had attacked cryptocurrency exchanges in different parts of the world and siphoned off $400 million worth of digital assets, last year alone. This was a 40 percent jump in the money it stole in the previous year and North Korea laundered the funds out in a sophisticated manner, the report added. 

In addition to cyberattacks, North Korea is also engaging in exporting coal through sea routes, another transgression of the impositions imposed by the UN. While these exports, carried out via sea routes are still at relatively low levels, they have increased in the latter half of 2021. The country is also importing refined petroleum through these routes, Independent reported. 

Last Friday, China and Russia refused to sign a statement that condemned North Korea's aggressive missile launches, the BBC reported. The country's humanitarian situation has continued to worsen, the UN report added.

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