• Reuters

US, South Korea and Japan to Step up Actions on North Korean Cyberthreats

Chung Sung-Jun/Pool via REUTERS
South Korea’s National Security Adviser Cho Tae-yong shakes hands with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Japan’s National Security Secretariat Secretary-General Takeo Akiba after their joint press conference at the presidential office, in Seoul, South Korea on December 09, 2023.

SEOUL (Reuters) – The United States, South Korea and Japan agreed new initiatives on Saturday to respond to North Korea’s threats in cyberspace, including cryptocurrency abuses and space launches, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

The three countries’ national security advisers met in Seoul as Pyongyang warned that it would deploy more spy satellites.

Sullivan said the meeting followed up on commitments set forth at a Camp David trilateral summit hosted by President Joe Biden in August, where leaders of the U.S. and its two key Asian allies pledged to deepen security and economic cooperation.

“We’ve also launched new trilateral initiatives to counter the threats posed by the DPRK, from its cybercrime and cryptocurrency money laundering to its reckless space and ballistic missile tests,” Sullivan told reporters, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

His Japanese counterpart Takeo Akiba said North Korea’s “illicit cyber activities” had emerged as most recent challenges, calling them “a source of funds” for the isolated state’s nuclear missile development.

The three countries’ coordinated efforts will target potential threats of economic coercion, having completed work on a supply-chain early warning system, agreed to at Camp David, in critical minerals and rechargeable batteries, Sullivan said.

Biden met at Camp David with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to project unity in the face of China’s growing power and nuclear threats from North Korea.

Sullivan said the nations “continue to stand up for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and freedom of navigation in the East and South China Seas.”

North Korean state media said on Saturday that Pyongyang was determined to launch more spy satellites soon, calling space development part of its right to defend itself as any other country has.

Sullivan disputed that claim, saying North Korea’s satellite launch involves ballistic-missile technologies that violate United Nations resolutions.

Sanctions monitors have accused North Korea of using cyberattacks to gather funds for its nuclear and missile programs, and a U.N. report said Pyongyang had stepped up its cryptocurrency theft last year, using sophisticated techniques to steal more in 2022 than any other year.

North Korea has denied allegations of hacking or other cyberattacks.

After talks with Sullivan and Akiba, South Korean national security adviser Cho Tae-yong said the three had also exchanged ideas on Ukraine and Middle East issues.

They discussed growing military cooperation between Russia and North Korea, and all three were confident North Korea was supplying weapons for Russia in Ukraine war, Sullivan said.

North Korea has denied any arms transfer with Moscow.