North Korea has been funding its nuclear and missile programs through cryptocurrencies stolen from crypto exchanges, Reuters reported Monday, citing an undisclosed report by the United Nations.
Reuters revealed that the report was submitted by independent sanctions monitors to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee on Friday. According to the report, funds stolen through cyberattacks were an important source of revenue for North Korea last year. The UN report noted:
“According to a member state, DPRK cyberactors stole more than $50 million between 2020 and mid-2021 from at least three cryptocurrency exchanges in North America, Europe and Asia.”
In addition, the UN report also cited the recent findings by blockchain and crypto analytics firm Chainalysis. The firm recently published a study that claimed that North Korean hackers stole more than $400 million worth of cryptocurrencies in 2021. The attackers mostly hacked centralized crypto exchanges and investment firms to carry out their motives.
The UN also revealed an alarmingly high figure of $2 billion raised by North Korea in 2019 through sophisticated cyber-attacks. The funds were used to sponsor and administer Nuclear tests weapons and missiles, something the UN has banned the country from doing so.
“Maintenance and development of DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure continued, and DPRK continued to seek material, technology and know-how for these programs overseas, including through cyber means and joint scientific research,” the report noted.
North Korea is an east-Asian country infamous for its authoritarian regime and humanitarian crisis. The country regularly conducts nuclear tests and calls it essential in order to protect its regime. In January 2022 alone, North Korean authorities administered nine ballistic missile launches.