North Korea continues unsurprisingly with its nuclear program in reaction to the new US sanctions – and a former senior NSA official claims that cryptocurrencies are to blame.
EMERGING CRYPTOCURRENCY INDUSTRY IN NORTH KOREA
As the United States move to cut North Korea’s revenues and force Pyongyang to play along with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the dictatorship is allegedly using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to bypass economic barriers.
Priscilla Moriuchi, former head of the National Security Agency, recently told Vox about North Korea’s use of cryptocurrencies, where she said the country is earning more than $200 million by converting cryptocurrencies into cash.
Although this is not enough to fully fund North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, it certainly does not hurt. Moriuchi said:
I would bet that these coins are being turned into something — currency or physical goods — that are supporting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.
Most cryptocurrences are based on the ideals of anti-centralization, security and anonymity – making them useful tools for a nation largely isolated from the rest of the world, socially and financially. Explained Moriuchi:
That kind of makes it a perfect platform for countries like North Korea, which are pretty isolated from the international financial system to begin with, to use this new form of commerce that’s thus far existed pretty much outside of countries’ regulatory control.
Although North Korea may be resorting to cryptocurrencies to bypass U. S. economic sanctions, there is really nothing illegal in that. As Moriuchi explains:
But it’s not illegal in any way, unlike a lot of the things that North Korea is doing today to generate funds: counterfeiting US dollars and cigarettes or selling wildlife and illegal drugs.
Yet what North Korea is really doing with the money it makes by turning cryptocurrencies into their national currency is another story. Says Moriuchi:
But North Korea has such extensive criminal networks that have been well-established for decades to facilitate illegal activities. If Pyongyang were able to cash out into physical currency, it would be relatively easy for them to move that currency back into North Korea and to buy things with the physical currency.
However. we cannot point the finger at cryptocurrencies for the illegal actions of North Korea.
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