A confidential United Nations report found that North Korea developed its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and gained millions of dollars in revenue from international cyberattacks, according to Reuters, which obtained an excerpt of the report on Saturday.
In an annual report submitted to the U.N. Security Council on Friday, independent sanctions monitors detailed the extent of North Korea’s weapons development in 2021. While the country did not test any nuclear weapons or launch any intercontinental ballistic missiles, the nation did continue to develop its capabilities for the production of “nuclear fissile materials,” according to the report, per Reuters.
North Korea, which launched at least seven missiles last month alone, also continued to invest in its ballistic missile program and build out infrastructure for nuclear and missile development last year, according to the report, Reuters reported.
“Maintenance and development of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure continued, and North Korea continued to seek material, technology and know-how for these programs overseas, including through cyber means and joint scientific research,” the report said.
North Korea “demonstrated increased capabilities for rapid deployment, wide mobility (including at sea), and improved resilience of its missile forces,” it added, per Reuters.
Inspectors from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency have been expelled from monitoring North Korea’s nuclear program since 2009, but raised the alarm in a report in August that the country had potentially restarted a reactor in its nuclear complex. The agency called the development “deeply troubling.”
North Korea has not tested long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons since 2017. But after nuclear talks with the U.S. under former President Trump broke down, the nation resumed short-range missile testing.
After a spate of missile tests last month, U.S. officials said they were pushing to negotiate with North Korea again but have yet to hear from Pyongyang on the proposal.
The U.N. report also found that “cyberattacks, particularly on cryptocurrency assets, remain an important revenue source” for North Korea.
In 2021, hackers stole more than $50 million from at least three cryptocurrency exchanges in North America, Europe and Asia, according to the report, Reuters reported.
The report also noted that cybersecurity firm Chainalysis said North Korea had stolen at least $400 million worth of digital assets last year in attacks on cryptocurrency platforms, per the wire service.