May 20, 2017 7:20 am JST

North Korea dismisses cyberattack allegations

Deputy UN ambassador vows to double down on weapons programs

ARIANA KING, Nikkei staff writer

UNITED NATIONS -- A top North Korean diplomat denied Friday Pyongyang's involvement in the recent WannaCry ransomware attack that crippled computers in more than 150 countries, calling such accusations "ridiculous."

"Whenever something strange happens, it is the stereotype way of the United States and the hostile forces" to kick off a "noisy anti-DPRK campaign" deliberately linking the country to it, said Kim In Ryong, deputy ambassador to the United Nations. Kim was using the abbreviation for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

North Korea has denied hacking allegations in the past, including in the 2014 Sony Pictures hacking which has been widely attributed to a Pyongyang-backed cyberwarfare cell.

In another cyberattack suggesting possible Pyongyang involvement, a phishing attempt was made sometime before May 12 against a U.N. committee tasked with monitoring the implementation of sanctions against North Korea, a source confirmed Friday.

The attempt, first reported by Kyodo News, came in the form of email disguised as information on Pan Systems Pyongyang, a North Korean concern with ties to countries including China, Malaysia and Singapore. A U.N. report earlier this year detailing the North's sanctions evasion tactics suggested designating the company for "its involvement in the sales of arms and related materiel."

Friday's news conference came after a string of provocations by the North -- seven test launches of ballistic missiles this year alone -- generally followed by condemnation from the international community.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting this week to discuss further measures in response to Pyongyang's launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile days before. A new round of sanctions is under consideration.

Kim lauded the recent test, calling it a demonstration of the North's "highly developed stage of science and technology in the field of national defense," and condemned the Security Council for having "played to the tune of the United States again."

Calling American policy toward the North the "root cause of all problems," Kim suggested that President Donald Trump's administration should seek to replace the 1953 armistice agreement, which established the cease-fire between North and South in place today, with a peace treaty.

Both Trump and new South Korean President Moon Jae-in have expressed a willingness to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang on the condition that the North first show a commitment to denuclearization.

But Kim responded to such proposals of dialogue with skepticism, arguing that "what is important is not words, but actions," and asserting instead that the U.S. must take the first step. "The rolling back the hostile policy towards DPRK is the prerequisite for solving all the problems in the Korean Peninsula," he said.

"It is the stance of the DPRK to continuously develop more precise and diversified and nuclear strike means and push ahead preparations for more tests till the U.S. and its vassal forces make a proper choice with the regions," Kim said.

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