North Korea has warned the US will soon face the ‘greatest pain’ it has ever experienced as Kim Jong-un’s hackers look set to turn to cyber-attacks to steal virtual currency in order to obtain funds amid United Nations sanctions.
Imports of crude oil have been capped – although the council stopped short of a total ban – and textile exports have been banned in the latest move against the state after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.
It was the ninth sanctions resolution over North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs adopted by the 15-member council since 2006.
Now, Kim Jong-un’s hackers are said to be looking to counter the restrictions by tapping into online currency such as Bitcoin as Pyongyang officials condemned the sanctions adding the US would soon face the ‘greatest pain’ it had ever experienced.
The United Nations Security Council has implemented sanctions against North Korea after the country’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets supporters in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency
North Korea on Tuesday rejected the tougher sanctions and aimed its threats at the US.
Pyongyang’s ambassador, Han Tae Song, told a UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva: ‘My delegation condemns in the strongest terms and categorically rejects the latest illegal and unlawful U.N. Security Council resolution.’
Han accused the U.S. administration of being ‘fired up for political, economic, and military confrontation,’ and of being ‘obsessed with the wild game of reversing the DPRK’s development of nuclear force which has already reached the completion phase’.
Now, experts predict the dictatorship is preparing to move part of its threat online.
North Korean hackers have mounted attacks on at least three South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges since May, security researcher FireEye said in a report Monday.
Local news reports said that in May Yapizon had more than 3,800 bitcoins worth $15million stolen – although FireEye said there were no clear indications of North Korean involvement in that case.
South Korea’s opposition Bareun Party lawmaker Ha Tae-Kyung, who has followed North Korean hacking attempts, said it had apparently stolen more than 90billion won ($80million) from South Korea through hacking attacks in the four years to June, including cyber-attacks on ATMs.
‘North Korea has set its sights on the so-called next generation financial markets, including virtual currencies, pin-tech and blockchains,’ he told journalists last week.
‘Alongside the UN-imposed sanctions, international cooperation is also required to curb the North’s cyber-hacking which can be used to finance its nuclear and missile programmes’, he said.
Experts have warned these attacks will become more frequent as the dictatorship attempts to re-balance its economy after the UN sanctions.
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley raises her arm as she votes at the UN Security Council meeting
China and Russia supported the move after the United States watered down their original tougher draft resolution.
North Korea rakes in £570 million a year from its textile exports, according to the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.
The industry was the country’s second-biggest export after coal and other minerals in 2016.
The country will only be able to import two million barrels of refined petroleum products each year and crude oil exports will be capped at current levels.
The resolution also banned natural gas liquids and condensates.
A U.S. official, who was not named, said North Korea imports some 4.5 million barrels of refined petroleum products annually and 4 million barrels of crude oil.
Liu Jieyi, Permanent Representative from China to the United Nations, during the United Nations Security Council meeting
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks with Sweden’s ambassador to UN Olof Skoog
China’s UN envoy urged North Korea to take the expectations of the international community ‘seriously’.
Japan’s U.N. ambassador, Koro Bessho, told ABC News: ‘I think everyone’s concerns have been satisfied, including ours.’
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says the world is ‘united against the illegal and reckless acts by the North Korean regime’ after the sanctions were imposed.
Mr Johnson said the new measures were ‘the most stringent UN sanctions regime placed on any nation in the 21st century’.
He said: ‘The international community has shown it is united against the illegal and reckless acts by the North Korean regime.
‘This resolution will curtail gas, petrol and oil imports. It will ban all textile exports, taking hundreds of million dollars from the export revenues that the North Korean regime uses to fund its illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. And it will end the exploitation of DPRK labourers abroad.
Photo released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-14 being lauched
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says the world is ‘united against the illegal and reckless acts by the North Korean regime’ after the sanctions were imposed
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army
The country will only be able to import two million barrels of refined petroleum products each year and crude oil exports will be capped at current levels
‘The North Korean regime bears full responsibility for the measures that the UN Security Council has enacted today. It is their continued, illegal and aggressive actions that have brought us to this point, and it is North Korea that must change its course.’
The news comes as Peru said it was expelling North Korea’s ambassador over the country’s refusal to end its nuclear programme.
The ambassador, Kim Hak-Chol, has five days to leave Peru, the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.
Earlier this month North Korea launched its biggest nuclear bomb test, prompting global condemnation as U.S. President Donald Trump said ‘appeasement’ would not work.
Peru stressed that it was committed to a peaceful solution to the dispute and ‘strict compliance’ with resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council.
Peru said it would ‘carry out all diplomatic efforts aimed at denuclearizing the North Korean peninsula.’
Peru’s announcement follows a similar move by Mexico last week and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s public call last month for Latin American nations to isolate Pyongyang.