North Korea will develop a nuclear missile program in 2021-UN report Reuters

© Reuters. File photo: The North Korean flag flutters beside the concertina wire of the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Michelle Nichols

United Nations (Reuters)-According to an excerpt from a confidential United Nations report seen by Reuters on Friday, North Korea continued to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in the first half of 2021, violating international sanctions, despite the deteriorating economic situation in the country.

The report submitted by the independent sanctions monitoring team to the UN Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions Committee stated that Pyongyang “continues to seek materials and technologies for these overseas projects”.

“Although the country is concerned about its deteriorating economic plight, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues to maintain and develop its nuclear program and ballistic missile program,” the sanctions monitor concluded.

The official name of North Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Permanent Mission of North Korea to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the United Nations report.

This isolated Asian country imposed a strict blockade last year because the coronavirus pandemic has reduced its trade and aid channels, damaging the economy that is already burdened by international sanctions.

In June of this year, leader Kim Jong Un stated that the country is facing a “tense” food situation, which depends largely on this year’s harvest.

The UN Ombudsman wrote: “The statement issued by North Korea indicates that the humanitarian crisis in the country is deepening, although the COVID-19 blockade means that the relative impact of sanctions on the humanitarian situation may have diminished.”

They said: “Because trade was almost stopped due to the blockade, last year’s harvest was severely affected by floods, and the outlook for the wider North Korean population is currently very poor.”

Since 2006, North Korea has been subject to United Nations sanctions for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The Security Council has been steadily tightening sanctions to cut off funding for these projects.

The sanctions imposed include a ban on the export of coal and other commodities and the import of oil.

“North Korea’s sea exports of coal and other sanctioned commodities continue, but the level has fallen sharply. In the first half of this year, imports of petroleum products reported to the expert group fell sharply,” the United Nations report said.

The UN sanctions monitor stated that Pyongyang continues to use international financial institutions and North Korean workers continue to make money overseas for national programs, adding: “Overseas officials continue to feel pressure to develop sources of income.”

The inspectors stated that they are continuing to investigate North Korea’s participation in global cyber activities and cooperation between North Korean academics and universities and foreign scientific research institutions, “focusing on research on potential applications in the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) program.”

UN sanctions monitors previously reported that North Korea had stolen hundreds of millions of dollars through cyber attacks.

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