Tuesday 20 August 2019

Hacking 'puts $2bn into Kim's nuclear scheme'

Kim Jong Un. Photo: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
Kim Jong Un. Photo: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

David Wainer

North Korea has mastered hacking into both old and new financial systems to funnel billions of dollars to its nuclear weapons programme, a new United Nations report found.

North Korean agents have amassed about $2bn (€1.78bn) by stealing money from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges, a panel monitoring the enforcement of UN sanctions said in a report to the Security Council.

In addition, Kim Jong-un's regime has about "30 overseas representatives controlling bank accounts and facilitating transactions, including for illicit transfers of coal and petroleum," the panel said.

"Ongoing deficiencies in member states' implementation of financial sanctions combined with DPRK's deceptive practices enabled it to continue to access the international financial system.

"Large-scale attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges allow the DPRK to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector."

Aggressive sanctions enforcement is central to US President Donald Trump's effort to get Pyongyang to eliminate its nuclear weapons programme.

North Korea's foreign ministry this week renewed its threat to take a "new road" in negotiations with the US.

Tensions have steadily increased since Mr Trump became the first sitting American president to set foot in North Korea on June 30 and agreed to restart working-level talks in two to three weeks.

North Korea kept its top diplomats away from a chance to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a regional conference in Bangkok last week, while repeatedly testing missiles during his trip.

Irish Independent

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