Crypto Crash Could Affect North Korea’s Nuclear Agenda
- North Korea depends largely on crypto holdings to fund its nuclear weapons agenda.
According to four digital investigators, the collapse in cryptocurrency markets has destroyed millions of dollars in assets that North Korean hackers had stolen, endangering a crucial source of income for the sanction-hit nation and its weapons programs.
According to the U.S. Treasury, North Korea has invested significant resources in cryptocurrency theft in recent years, making it a strong cyber threat. The Asian country was involved in one of the greatest cryptocurrency heists in March, in which over $615 million was stolen.
A leaked United Nations analysis from February implied that cryptocurrency was used to finance North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development. The nation turned to digital assets as a result of tough international bans on the country.
Two unidentified government sources revealed that North Korea’s cryptocurrency profits from the bull run now appear to be badly diminished, which might have an impact on how its government finances its nuclear programs.
North Korea Receives a Third of the Value of Stolen Funds
The reports emerge as North Korea intends to restart nuclear testing. The country has reportedly spent $620 million this year on nuclear weapons. North Korea’s previous stolen crypto holdings, including money taken in different scams from 2017 to 2021 are said to have dropped from $170 million to $65 million in 2022.
Furthermore, the spoils from the hack on the Ronin network are currently probably only worth a third of its initial value. Analysts believe that the stolen Ethereum from the hack could have been sold for $552 million at the time, but is now estimated to be worth $230 million.
Authorities in the United States claim that a North Korean hacker group known as the Lazarus Group was responsible for the $615 million March attack on Ronin. The group is also reported to be behind a couple of other high-profile scams including the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and other international hits.
North Korea has other streams of income but crypto has become one of its go-to sources. However, the country only receives a small portion of the stolen goods since it depends on brokers prepared to convert or purchase cryptocurrency without any checks or balances. Reports state that North Korea sometimes receives one-third of the value of the currency it plundered.