UN experts investigating 58 suspected North Korean cyberattacks worth nearly $3 billion


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. experts say they are investigating 58 suspected North Korean cyberattacks worth nearly $3 billion between 2017 and 2023 over money allegedly used to develop weapons of mass destruction. Is being done to help.

A high volume of cyberattacks have reportedly been carried out by North Korean hacking groups reporting to the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the panel of experts said in an executive summary of a new report received Friday by the UN Security Council. Are continuing. By the Associated Press.

The report, covering the period from July 2023 to January 2024 and reflecting contributions from unnamed UN member states and other sources, was sent to the 15-member council as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has escalated tensions in the region. he is threatening To destroy South Korea if provoked and mounting weapons display, In response, the United States, South Korea, and Japan have strengthened their joint military exercises.

Amid rising military and political tensions on the Korean Peninsula, experts said North Korea “continued to violate UN sanctions”, further developed its nuclear weapons, and produced nuclear fissile material – the key material for weapons. .

A light-water reactor at North Korea’s main nuclear complex at Yongbyon “appears to be operational,” experts said. South Korea’s defense minister said in late December that the reactor would be formally operational by the summer, amid suspicions that the North could use it as a new source of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

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North Korea has long produced weapons-grade plutonium from its widely known 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon. The light-water reactor would be an additional source of bomb fuel, and observers say its larger capacity could allow it to produce more plutonium. Yongbyon also has a uranium enrichment facility.

The panel said activities at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site “continued”. US and South Korean officials have said North Korea may be preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test from the site, the first since 2017.

external estimate North Korea’s nuclear arsenal varies in size, ranging from 20–60 to more than 100. Experts say North Korea could add six to 18 bombs each year. Kim Jong Un has repeatedly pledged since his diplomacy with the US collapsed in 2019 build more nuclear weapons and introducing high-tech weapons to deal with what he calls growing American hostility.

The panel said that during a six-month period ending in January, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK – the North’s official name – launched at least seven ballistic missiles – a three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile, a possibly intermediate -range missile and five short-range ballistic missiles.

After two unsuccessful attempts, the DPRK successfully placed a military observation satellite into orbit, experts said. And one diesel submarine was redesignated as a “strategic nuclear attack submarine” and added to the North’s military arsenal.

The panel, which monitors UN sanctions against North Korea, said the DPRK continues to import refined petroleum products in violation of Security Council resolutions, using a “bewildering combination of methods” to evade maritime sanctions. keeps.

Experts said the DPRK’s recorded trade volume in 2023 will exceed total trade in 2022, including a huge variety of consumer goods, “some of which can be classified as luxury goods” which Are banned by United Nations sanctions.

The panel said it was also investigating reports from member states about supplies of arms and ammunition by the DPRK in violation of UN sanctions.

South Korea’s military said in November it suspected North Korea had shipped short-range ballistic missiles, anti-tank missiles and portable anti-air missiles to Russia in addition to rifles, rocket launchers, mortars and shells in violation of regulations. Have sent. UN sanctions.

During the six-month period, experts said, “trends include the DPRK targeting defense companies and supply chains, and increased sharing of infrastructure and equipment.”

The panel said it also investigated reports of a number of DPRK nationals working abroad and earning income in violation of UN sanctions, including in information technology, restaurants and construction.

And in another sanctions violation, he said, “the DPRK is accessing the international financial system and engaging in illicit financial operations.”

UN sanctions should not harm ordinary North Koreans, but the panel said, “There can be little doubt that UN sanctions and their implementation have inadvertently affected the humanitarian situation and some aspects of aid operations ” But it added, “It is impossible to separate out their relative role from many other factors.”

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