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North Korea accuses UN of double standard over missile firings

Seoul: North Korea accused the United Nations of a “double standard” over its reaction to the North’s recent missile launches, warning it of a serious consequence.

Last week, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea in a defiance of UN resolutions that ban such launches by North Korea. The UN Security Council subsequently adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of UN experts monitoring sanctions against North Korea.

 “It constitutes a denial of sovereignty and an apparent double standard that the UNSC takes issue, on the basis of the UN ‘resolutions’ — direct products of the US hostile policy toward (North Korea),” senior North Korean Foreign Ministry official Jo Chol Su said in a statement carried by state media.

Jo said it “doesn’t make any sense” for the UN council to take issue with only North Korea’s missile launches, while not doing anything on similar weapons tests by other countries. He said such a “double standard will invite more serious consequence” but didn’t elaborate.

Observers say North Korea could test-fire longer-range missiles in coming weeks.

At a recent meeting of the committee monitoring sanctions and North Korea, where all 15 Security Council members are represented, UN diplomats said a significant majority expressed concern at Pyongyang’s latest violations of council resolutions banning ballistic missile launches. They said the Security Council is likely to hold a closed discussion on the missile launches this week.

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Kim Jong-un’s sister warns Joe Biden

Seoul: Kim Jong-un’s powerful sister warned the United States to “refrain from causing a stink” if it wants to “sleep in peace” for the next four years.

Kim Yo Jong’s statement was issued as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Asia to talk with US allies Japan and South Korea about North Korea and other regional issues.

“We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration trying hard to give off (gun) powder smell in our land,” she said. “If it wants to sleep in peace for the coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”

Kim Yo Jong, a senior official who handles inter-Korean affairs, also criticized the US and South Korea for holding military exercises. She also said the North would consider abandoning a 2018 bilateral agreement on reducing military tensions and abolish a decades-old ruling party unit tasked to handle inter-Korean relations if it no longer had to cooperate with the South.

A senior official from the Biden administration that US officials have tried to reach out to North Korea through multiple channels since last month, but had yet to receive a response.

While Kim in recent political speeches has vowed to strengthen his nuclear weapons program, he also has said the fate of US relations depends on Washington’s actions.

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‘N Korea stole $300 mn in crypto to fund nukes’

Seoul: North Korea has stolen more than $300 million worth of cryptocurrencies through cyberattacks in recent months to support its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, a confidential UN report said.

Compiled by a panel of experts monitoring sanctions on Pyongyang, the report said the country’s “total theft of virtual assets from 2019 to November 2020 is valued at approximately $316.4 million”, citing a UN member state.

The vast majority of the proceeds came from two thefts late last year.

The North is known to operate an army of thousands of well-trained hackers who have attacked firms, institutions and researchers in South Korea and elsewhere.

The North is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have made rapid progress under leader Kim Jong-un.

The UN panel said it was investigating a September 2020 hack against a cryptocurrency exchange that resulted in $281 million worth of cryptocurrencies being stolen.

A second cyberattack siphoned off $23 million a month later.

“Preliminary analysis, based on the attack vectors and subsequent efforts to launder the illicit proceeds strongly suggests links to the DPRK,” the report said, using the initials for the North’s official name.

The North is also blamed for a huge, $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank, as well as the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank.

Pyongyang has denied the accusations, saying it has “nothing to do with cyber-attacks”.

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‘I have failed’: North Korea’s Kim breaks into tears

Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un broke down in a rare display of emotions on Oct 13. The emotional side of the North Korean leader, whose alleged illness followed by rumors of death and subsequent “resurrection” have been the talking points this year, took the world by surprise.

A video taken at a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party shows Kim Jong-un taking off his glasses and wiping tears, according to reports.

“Our people have placed trust, as high as the sky and as deep as the sea, in me, but I have failed to always live up to it satisfactorily,” the Korea Times quoted him as saying. “I am really sorry for that.”

“Although I am entrusted with the important responsibility to lead this country upholding the cause of the great comrades Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il thanks to the trust of all the people, my efforts and sincerity have not been sufficient enough to rid our people of the difficulties in their lives,” he said.

North Korea’s economy, already severely restricted by international sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, took a further hit as the country shut down nearly all border traffic in an effort to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.

The United Nations has said that as much as 40% of the population faces food shortages, which may have been exacerbated by severe summer floods and typhoons.

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N Korea can make 6 nuclear devices every year: US Army

Seoul/Washington: North Korea is believed to have between 20-60 nuclear bombs besides maintaining a 2-500-5,000 ton stockpile of 20 chemical weapons, making it the world’s third-largest holder of chemical agents, according to a US Army report.

The US Department of the Army headquarters made the assessment in its report, titled “North Korean tactics”, saying Pyongyang is unlikely to give up these weapons to ensure the regime’s survival, the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported.

“Estimates for North Korean nuclear weapons range from 20-60 bombs, with the capability to produce six new devices each year,” the report said.

The report also showed that Pyongyang is estimated to possess “2,500-5,000 tonnes of chemical weapons of approximately 20 different types.

It is “highly likely” that the North Korean military would use chemical artillery shells.

The regime has also done research on biological weapons and possibly weaponized anthrax or smallpox, which could be mounted atop missiles for use against South Korea, the US and Japan, it added.

“Only 1 kilogram of anthrax could kill up to 50,000 people in Seoul,” Yonhap News Agency quoted the report as saying.

North Korea is also believed to have secured advanced computer warfare capabilities, which is another key means of coercive diplomacy, according to the report.

Under the Cyber Warfare Guidance Unit, more commonly known as Bureau 121, the North manages more than 6,000 hackers, many of whom are operating in foreign countries, such as Belarus, China, India, Malaysia and Russia, the report added.

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