U.S., SKorea, Japan ask for stronger international support

Seoul, South Korea –

South Korea, the United States, and Japan ban North Korea’s sending workers abroad as a way to block North Korea’s means of funding its nuclear program, and provide international support for efforts to curb North Korean cybercrime. asked to strengthen

Major nuclear envoys from South Korea, the United States and Japan met in Seoul on Friday for the first time in four months to discuss ways to deal with North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal. North Korea’s recent weapons tests indicate that rather than returning to talks, North Korea intends to acquire more advanced missiles designed to hit the United States and its allies.

Despite 11 rounds of UN sanctions and pandemic-related hardships that have exacerbated its economy and food problems, North Korea still spends much of its scarce resources on its nuclear and missile programs. Contributing to the funding of the weapons program is North Korea’s cryptocurrency hacks and other illicit cyber activities, despite previous UN orders to repatriate North Korean workers by the end of 2019. , Experts say, are likely to be wages sent by North Korean workers remaining in China, Russia and elsewhere.

In a joint statement, South Korean, US and Japanese special envoys urged the international community to fully comply with UN resolutions on the ban on North Korean workers abroad, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministry said a large number of North Korean workers are still engaged in economic activities around the world, making remittances used in North Korea’s weapons program. The three envoys sought to caution North Korean workers as the country may reopen more borders as the global COVID-19 situation improves.

The exact number of North Korean workers remaining overseas is unknown. But before the 2019 UN deadline passed, the US State Department estimated that about 100,000 North Koreans work in factories, construction sites, logging industries and elsewhere around the world. Private experts said these workers brought North Korea an estimated $200 million to $500 million in income each year.

“We need to make sure that North Korean provocations never go unpunished. Effectively counter North Korea’s future provocations and cut their revenue streams that fund these illegal activities,” the meeting said.

US Special Envoy Sung Kim said North Korea threatened the security and prosperity of the entire international community with its nuclear and missile programs and “malicious cyber programs that target countries and individuals around the world.” .

South Korea’s spy agency said last December that North Korean hackers had stolen an estimated 1.5 trillion won ($1.2 billion) of cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets over the past five years, and stole more than half of that last year alone. . The National Intelligence Service said North Korea’s ability to steal digital assets is believed to be among the best in the world.

Friday’s trilateral meeting is likely to infuriate North Korea. North Korea has previously warned that the trilateral move to promote security cooperation prompted an urgent call to boost its own military capabilities.

North Korea has long argued that UN sanctions and US-led military exercises in the region are evidence of Washington’s hostility to the country. North Korea says it was forced to develop nuclear weapons to deal with US military threats, but US and South Korean officials are adamant that they have no intention of invading North Korea.

Earlier this week, the United States conducted anti-submarine naval exercises with South Korean and Japanese forces for the first time in six months. The US has also flown nuclear-capable bombers for separate bilateral air training with South Korean fighters.

North Korea has not tested weapons in response to these exercises involving the United States. But last month, South Korea carried out a barrage of missile tests to protest previous South Korea-US military drills it sees as rehearsals for aggression.

Japan’s Special Envoy Takehiro Funakoshi said North Korea’s recent weapons tests and violent rhetoric pose a grave threat to the region and beyond. “Under these circumstances, our three countries have greatly deepened our cooperation,” he said.

Sung Kim reiterated that Washington is seeking diplomacy with Pyongyang without preconditions. North Korea has previously rejected such proposals, saying it would not resume negotiations unless Washington withdrew its hostile policy, citing sanctions and US-South Korea military exercises. said it would eventually use its expanded arsenal to seek U.S. concessions, such as lifting sanctions, in future negotiations.

There are concerns that North Korea may conduct its first nuclear test in more than five years since it unveiled a new type of warhead last week. Foreign experts debate whether North Korea has developed a warhead small enough to fit on a missile.

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