United Nations – The experts of United Nations reported that they are investigating 58 alleged cyber attacks from North Korea between 2017 and 2023, with a value of approximately $3,000 million, whose funds would have contributed to the financing of the development of weapons of mass destruction.
And the high volume of attacks by North Korean hacking groups reporting to the General Reconnaissance Office, the country’s main foreign intelligence agency, would continue its course, the committee of experts noted in the executive summary of a new report for the United Nations Security Council obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
The report, which runs from July 2023 to January 2024 and reflects contributions from unnamed UN countries and other sources, was sent to the Council at a time when the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Unhas raised tensions in the region.
The president threatens to annihilate South Korea if it is provoked and has intensified weapons tests. In response, USASouth Korea and Japan They have reinforced their joint military maneuvers.
Given the increase in political and military tensions on the Korean Peninsula, experts noted that Pyongyang “continued to violate (UN) sanctions,” continued to develop its nuclear weapons and produced fissile nuclear material, the key element of that type of armament.
Experts indicated that a light water reactor located at North Korea’s main nuclear complex in Yongbyon “appeared to be operational.” The South Korean Defense Minister stated at the end of December that the reactor could be formally operational by the summer, amid suspicions that the North could use it as new fissile material for its nuclear weapons.
Pyongyang has long produced weapons-grade plutonium at its well-known 5-megawatt Yongbyon reactor. Light water would be an additional source of bomb fuel, and observers say its greater capacity could allow it to generate more plutonium. Yongbyon also has a uranium enrichment facility.
According to the committee, activity at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test center “continued.” U.S. and South Korean officials said the North may be preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test from those facilities, the first since 2017.
External estimates of the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal vary, ranging from 20-60 to more than 100. According to experts, the country could add six to 18 more pumps each year. Since the failure of diplomacy with Washington in 2019, Kim Jong Un has reiterated his commitment to building more nuclear weapons and introducing high-tech weapons to confront what he calls growing hostility from the United States.
Experts noted that during the six-month period ending in January, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK – the country’s official name – launched at least seven ballistic missiles: a three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile, a possible medium range and five short range ballistic missiles.
After two failed attempts, Pyongyang managed to launch a military observation satellite into orbit, the report added. In addition, a diesel submarine reconditioned as a “tactical nuclear attack submarine” was added to the arsenal.
The committee, which oversees U.N. sanctions on the secretive nation, said the North continues to flout Security Council resolutions by importing refined petroleum products using “combinations of concealment methods” to evade maritime sanctions.
The trade volume recorded by the DPRK in 2023 exceeded the previous year’s total, he added, including a wide variety of consumer goods, “some of which could be classified as luxury items” that are prohibited by international sanctions.
The experts indicated that they are also investigating reports from member countries about the weapons and ammunition that the country would supply, another violation of the sanctions.
USA, Ukraine and six more allies last month accused Russia of using North Korean ballistic missiles and launchers in a series of devastating airstrikes in Ukraine.
South Korea’s military said in November it suspected Pyongyang had sent Moscow an unknown number of short-range ballistic missiles, anti-tank missiles and man-portable anti-aircraft missiles, as well as rifles, rocket launchers, mortars and projectiles, in violation of sanctions.
In the six-month period analyzed, “trends include the DPRK’s focus on defense companies and supply chains, and the increasing exchange of infrastructure and tools,” the committee noted.
The group also studied reports of numerous North Korean citizens working abroad, in sectors such as information technology, catering and construction, and earning income against UN restrictions.
Furthermore, “the DPRK continues to access the international financial system and engage in illicit financial operations,” he added.