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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un at Pyongyang Trolley Bus Factory. Photo: STR / AFP via Getty Images

North Korea has been acquiring technology for nuclear and weapons programs through its Berlin embassy, Germany's head of intelligence says, reports AFP.

Why it matters: North Korea isn't slowing down efforts to build up its nuclear capabilities despite heavy UN-imposed sanctions and international warnings.

Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), or Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, made the comments in an interview with German public television channel ARD, to be aired Monday.

“We have noticed that so many procurement activities have taken place from the embassy ... When we see such things, we stop them. But we cannot guarantee that we spot and block each attempt."

What's next, per Ryan Hass, David M. Rubenstein Fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings, for Axios Expert Voices: "As sanctions shrink the sources of national revenue, Kim will have to choose between funding his nuclear and missile programs, paying his military and security services, or buying off the country's elite."

"Kim’s survival instincts will likely compel him to prioritize the loyalty of North Korea’s elite and its security services, which in turn will slow nuclear and missile advances and create space for diplomacy."

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.