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“After gaining the required access, the threat agent manufactures an artificial cascade through sequential tripping of select critical feeders and components, causing automated tripping of generation sources due to power and voltage fluctuations,” the report said. “A blackout of varying degree and potential equipment damage ensues.”

According to the report, nation state threats to the grid include China, North Korea and Cuba. Among the cyber terrorist threats listed: al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taibi, and the Palestinian group Hamas. Domestic threats include “lone wolf” extremists, ecoterrorists among Earth First and Greenpeace, U.S. separatist groups, and militias and hate groups, the report said.


North Korea’s drug trafficking and currency counterfeiting have shifted from being government activities to using criminal surrogates and networks not directly linked to the regime, according to a new think tank report.

From the 1970s to the mid-2000s, North Korea used its diplomatic, intelligence and military officials to get hard currency illicitly by producing and trafficking heroin and methamphetamine, and counterfeiting high-quality $100 bills called “supernotes,” said the report by Sheena Chestnut Greitens, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution Center for East Asia Policy Studies.

Since 2005, North Korean criminal activities have included drug trafficking mainly in China and South Korea that appears to show a decrease in regime control of the illegal trade, which produces tens of millions of dollars annually.

“No longer limited to elites, the drug trade and other illicit activities now encompass a broader swath of North Korean society than before,” the report said.

The report, “Illicit: North Korea’s Evolving Operations to Earn Hard Currency,” was published Tuesday by the Committee on Human Rights in North Korea.

It details North Korean criminal activities that for 40 years have included transnational drug smuggling, high-quality counterfeiting, selling parts of endangered species, and making and selling counterfeit goods that range from cigarettes to pharmaceuticals to brand-name watches.

North Korea has produced an estimated $2.8 million a year in counterfeit U.S. currency since 1989, the report says. Its endangered species trafficking has included sales of rhino horn and ivory worth tens of thousands of dollars per shipment.

Counterfeit cigarette production in North Korea has made cash from the sales of fake Chinese cigarettes, which can reap up to $4 million per shipping container.

The trafficking has been primarily to support “the Kim family regime’s need for hard currency,” a reference to the three-generation personality cult led first by communist founder Kim Il-sung, followed his son, Kim Jong-il, and now his grandson, Kim Jong-un.

“The activity also evolved in important ways over time, from a state-run operation using North Korean officials as couriers and traffickers to a more compartmentalized network in which North Korea concentrated on product and outsourced distribution to criminal organizations,” the report said. “Party, government, and military organizations, as well as elites, are allowed to run businesses and to make money as long as they make a sufficient offering to the leadership.”

North Korean defectors have said Pyongyang is continuing to produce supernotes, a process that is unlikely to be conducted by non-government actors, the report said. Drug trafficking appears to be increasing across North Korea’s border with China, and drug use has become a growing problem within North Korea, it said.

“From their inception, these illicit activities have been highly adaptive — in terms of products involved, manufacturing locations, shipment tactics, distribution partners and methods, financial infrastructure and regime role,” the report said.

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