North Korean hackers have stolen nearly £230m to help pay for its nuclear weapons, the UN security council has been told.
The rogue nation stole "virtual assets" worth around $316.4m from 2019 to November 2020, an expert panel report from an unidentified country said.
North Korean-linked cyber attacks on financial institutions and virtual currency exchange houses had generated money for its weapon development programmes, the panel claimed.
Their report added: "It displayed new short-range, medium-range, submarine-launched and intercontinental ballistic missile systems at military parades.
"It announced preparation for testing and production of new ballistic missile warheads and, development of tactical nuclear weapons… and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure."
The report also noted that North Korea has been able to evade sanctions, develop its weapons, illicitly import refined petroleum, access international banking channels and carry out "malicious cyber activities".
It added that North Korea's "total theft of virtual assets from 2019 to November 2020 is valued at approximately $316.4 million (£229.4m)," the Independent reports.
And claimed that during the development the Asian nation has produced fissile material which is required for nuclear weapons.
North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un last month talked about bolstering his country’s "nuclear deterrent" during the mammoth congress of the ruling party.
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The country faced tough sanctions from the UN security council for conducting a nuclear test in 2006.
But it has continued testing its weapons and the report also stated that North Korea continues to launder stolen cryptocurrencies.
The experts said it happened through over-the-counter virtual asset brokers in China to acquire currency which is government-backed, like the US dollar.
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They note that "preliminary analysis" strongly suggested links to North Korea.
North Korea has also been developing Covid vaccines using data it hacked from foreign scientists, reports say.
Dictator Kim Jong-un's fearsome sister is said to be leading a specialist hacking unit called Bureau 325.
An insider claimed Kim Yo-jong's team's ill-gotten data has been used to create jabs at Kim Il Sung University.
South Korean newspaper Daily NK was told the rogue state's vaccine was already undergoing Phase III human trials.
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North Korea borders China but claims it hasn't recorded a single case of coronavirus, the Mail Online reports.
But it has long been suspected of trying to steal vaccine secrets and the source said researchers have been using expertise gathered through "hacking activities" to carry out work at a biological research institute.
The work was said to include tests on patients with symptoms similar to those caused by Covid-19, with Phase I and Phase II trials already completed.
Microsoft linked North Korea last November to a series of attempted cyber-attacks by a shadowy operation called the Lazarus Group.
The group is under US sanctions as a suspected state-backed hacking unit, allegedly posed as job recruiters in an attempt to steal login credentials.
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