Crypto winter wipes out large chunk of North Korea's weapons program funding

nanoguy

Posts: 1,232   +24
Staff member
Why it matters: The ongoing crypto winter has affected more than exchanges and hopeful investors that were optimistic about the evolution of digital assets. Elsewhere, the sharp drop in value for major cryptocurrencies has had an unexpected positive effect: it wiped out a large chunk of the stolen funds that North Korea has been using for its nuclear missile program.

Back in 2018, a Singapore-based US citizen and member of the Ethereum Foundation advised North Korea on how to use cryptocurrencies to work around US sanctions. Now he's looking at over five years in prison, while the country amassed millions worth of cryptocurrencies that have helped fund its nuclear weapons program.

However, a lesser-known consequence of the recent crash of the crypto market is that North Korea's holdings also took a nose dive. According to a recent UN report, the country relies heavily on stolen digital tokens for its weapons development and testing activities, so any significant fluctuations in price can put them on the back burner.

This week, blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis told Reuters that old North Korean crypto holdings it has been monitoring are now worth an estimated $65 million — a sharp drop in value from $170 million in the span of just six months. The funds were obtained from at least 49 state-sponsored hacks performed between 2017 and 2021, and they likely represent only a small amount of the total that has yet to be laundered.

Earlier this year, the US Treasury along with Chainalysis and Elliptic confirmed suspicions that North Korea's Lazarus Group was behind one of the largest cryptocurrency heists to date. No less than $615 million worth of ETH and USDC tokens were stolen from the Ronin network that acts as infrastructure for a popular game called Axie Infinity. However, those funds have since lost almost two-thirds of their value.

To put things in perspective, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons estimates that North Korea spends around $640 million per year on developing and maintaining its nuclear arsenal. Converting stolen cryptocurrencies to cash is not exactly easy, and brokers who are willing to make a deal offer well below market value.

Couple that with the current crypto crash and it's easy to see why North Korea is already looking for alternative ways to fund its missile program, such as smuggling coal to China. When pressed for comment, country representatives at its London embassy dismissed the report as "totally fake news."

Permalink to story.

 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,123   +822
Does America not have laws about monetary value - ie under say $500 it's a lesser crime
No your honour after I finished with the Trans Am it was valued at $300 here to today where it matters- hell I wouldn't even pay . Not as good as the orphan defense
A friend of mine told me cops kept his marijuana seedings ( long ago ) as evidence - by the time court came around they were full grown and very impressive .

Your Honour BC does not have monetary value , it's value is an idea , a dream - and he law does not protect dreams of the get rich
 

Hooda Thunkett

Posts: 14   +17
Look, there's nothing in this article that makes me feel anything but simple happiness. Every day the crypto market suffers, there seems to be another little sparkle of joy!
And North Korea is smuggling coal to China? I thought that China had a fair amount of that already, so I figured this was literally like taking coal to Newcastle.
 

ypsylon

Posts: 521   +542
My question is: how despite sanctions NK managed to pursue nuclear program?

We not talking about a vegetable stand at the corner of the street. It's not only about money - crypto or not. You need transport of highly illegal (embargo list) goods in vast quantities. So either China+Russia are openly using NK as a nuclear program branch (and spewing nonsense how they are against NK weapon program in true hyperbolic propaganda fashion) or NK developed replicator technology as in Star Trek...

Let crypto burn, let fools burn along with it.
 

ZedRM

Posts: 1,064   +748
My question is: how despite sanctions NK managed to pursue nuclear program?
How did America do it? They took late 1930's/early 1940's tech to make the first atomic bomb and 1950's rocket tech to make it fly on it's own. NK has much more modern tech and the resources to put it all together. All they needed to do is to work out the physics and bam!, Bob's your uncle!
 
Last edited:

nodfor

Posts: 269   +471
I don't really take seriously media articles that supposedly uncover secrets about NK.
Anyway, if actually they went long during 2018 they are most likely still in the green you know, 200% - 300% gains actually.
 

Hooda Thunkett

Posts: 14   +17
My question is: how despite sanctions NK managed to pursue nuclear program?

We not talking about a vegetable stand at the corner of the street. It's not only about money - crypto or not. You need transport of highly illegal (embargo list) goods in vast quantities. So either China+Russia are openly using NK as a nuclear program branch (and spewing nonsense how they are against NK weapon program in true hyperbolic propaganda fashion) or NK developed replicator technology as in Star Trek...

Let crypto burn, let fools burn along with it.
While NK lacks deposits of what we would call Uranium Ore (pitchblende, IIRC), they do have other uranium rich rock formations, and with a bit of engineering knowledge and a 1940's style industrial base, that's all you need.
 

Latest posts