By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – North Korea continued to develop nuclear weapons and produce nuclear fissile material by 2023 and dodge United Nations sanctions aimed at cutting funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs according to an unpublished United Nations report viewed by Reuters on Thursday.
“After a record number of cyber thefts in 2022 estimated at $1.7 billion, hackers from the DPRK (North Korea) reportedly continued to successfully attack cyber-cryptocurrency and other financial exchanges worldwide,” independent sanctions observers wrote in the report to a UN Security Council. . Commission.
The monitors, who report to the council twice a year, have previously accused North Korea of using cyberattacks to help fund its nuclear and missile programs. North Korea has denied allegations of hacking or other cyber attacks.
North Korea’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Earlier on Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un replaced the army’s top general and called for more preparations for the possibility of war, an increase in arms production and expansion of military exercises, state media KCNA reported.
North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Those measures have been unanimously tightened over the years, but the 15-member body is now deadlocked as China and Russia push for easing to convince Pyongyang to return to denuclearization talks.
The UN sanctions monitors said hackers working for North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), the main foreign intelligence agency, “continued to use increasingly sophisticated cyber techniques to steal money and information.”
“Companies in the crypto-currency, defense, energy and health sectors were particularly targeted,” they wrote in the executive summary of the report to be published in the coming weeks. “The DPRK continued to have access to the international financial system and also engaged in illegal financial operations.”
The observers reported continued illegal coal exports and “a rich variety of sanctions evasion measures by ships delivering refined petroleum products to the DPRK”. North Korea also acquired 14 new ships in violation of sanctions.
“While the country’s borders remain largely closed, trade volumes increased, mainly due to the resumption of rail traffic. A wide variety of foreign goods have quickly resurfaced,” the observers wrote, adding that they believe the illegal imports of continued to explore luxury goods.
The monitors said they are also investigating alleged North Korean exports of military communications equipment and munitions and “possible cases of DPRK sales of arms or other forms of military support to member states.”
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Stephen Coates)