North Korea may face cyber sanctions from South Korea over nuclear tests

North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006. It has also tested ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.

Soldiers from North and South Korea verify the removal of guard posts on each side of the Demilitarized Zone, December 12, 2018.  (photo credit: SOUTH KOREAN DEFENSE MINISTRY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Soldiers from North and South Korea verify the removal of guard posts on each side of the Demilitarized Zone, December 12, 2018.
(photo credit: SOUTH KOREAN DEFENSE MINISTRY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

North Korea is likely to face stronger sanctions including measures aimed at curbing its cyberattack capabilities if it conducts a nuclear test that it has been preparing, South Korea's foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Park Jin, who took office in May as new President Yoon Suk-yeol's top diplomat, said North Korea has completed arrangements for what would be its first nuclear test since 2017.

North Korea is already under various UN sanctions because of its nuclear and missile programs and the UN Security Council would likely adopt a "far stronger, more closely woven" resolution if it goes ahead with the test, including measures targeting its hackers, Park said.

"There need to be more strengthened sanctions for North Korean IT workers stationed abroad making funds through illegal cyber hacking activity," he told a news conference.

North Korean controversies

The United States and South Korea have said North Korea has mobilized thousands of hackers to steal funds including cryptocurrencies to finance its weapons.

 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a convocation of the Expansion of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea in this photo released by the country's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) June 23, 2022 (credit: KCNA VIA REUTERS) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a convocation of the Expansion of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea in this photo released by the country's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) June 23, 2022 (credit: KCNA VIA REUTERS)

North Korea's foreign ministry has denied that accusation and says its weapons programs are for its defense.

Several US officials including the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, Anne Neuberger, were in South Korea this week to discuss responses to the North's weapons tests and ways to reopen stalled denuclearisation talks.

North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006. It has also tested ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.

On Japan, Park vowed to seek a solution to a feud that has undermined relations stemming from South Korean court orders for the seizure of assets of Japanese firms accused of not compensating some wartime laborers.