U.N. Security Council has reported that there have been highly sophisticated and widespread cyber attacks on the cryptocurrency exchanges and banks by North Korea since its missile tests. Sources have told that Pyongyang has gained $2 billion for its illegal weapons development program. This has been possible due to the ability of the country to stage cyberattacks that enable them to steal funds from cryptocurrency exchanges and financial institutions. The country is also covering its tracks well so the UN security council has cautioned that the total amount may be more than that of the estimated ones.
Based on the UN report, the diplomats have told that these incomes have enabled North Korea to fund its weapons of mass destruction program with little regulation and government oversight. Cybersecurity firms have pointed out that North Korea has moved on from its traditional targets such as South Korean military and government organizations to a diverse target that cannot be traced back to the country.
North Korea has stolen $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh, an institution similar to that of Federal Reserve. This is a part of the $2 billion stolen by hackers. There are also other violations of the UN sanctions such as procurement of WMD related items, illicit ship to ship transfers, and smuggling luxury goods.
The impact of these illegal transactions is huge as it has enabled North Korea to evade the UN sanctions voted unanimously since 2006 and continually fund its missile programs. Since the impromptu meeting of Donald Trump with Kim Jong Un in May at DMZ, North Korea has conducted a series of tests pressuring the U.S. however Trump has repeatedly said that the tests do not concern him as they cannot reach U.S territory. However, there is a threat to the US allies – Japan and South Korea due to recent tests three in July/early August and 2 new tests on Monday.
Experts have expressed concern that with each launch, North Korea is able to learn and improve its weapons program. There has not been any attempt on denuclearization of North Korea since the failed Hanoi summit between Kim and Trump in February. Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, said that he was hoping to meet the foreign minister of North Korea; however it has not happened.