The White House revealed that nearly half of North Korea’s missile program is now financed through cyberattacks and cryptocurrency theft. In an interview with CNN, Anna Nyberger from the U.S. National Security Council disclosed that the North Korean regime has significantly increased its reliance on cryptocurrencies to cover missile spending.
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Comparatively, just last year, Pyongyang relied on cryptocurrencies for only one-third of its military funding. Nyberger raised suspicions about potential involvement of other nations, as the U.S. government aims to understand how a country like North Korea manages to be so resourceful in this domain.
While details regarding the U.S.’s strategy for dealing with North Korea’s hacking activities in the crypto market were not provided, Nyberger acknowledged that North Korean hackers have been responsible for stealing billions of dollars from banks and cryptocurrency companies over the past few years.
The United Nations Security Council previously estimated that in 2022, North Korea stole a record-breaking amount of over $1 billion in cryptocurrency, compared to $630 million in 2021. These thefts have enabled North Korea to expedite its ballistic missile program.
With over 70 launches last year, including eight intercontinental ballistic missiles, the country’s nuclear program has also intensified. Evidence suggests increasing stockpiles of fissile materials and heightened activity at the Yongbyon complex and the Punggye-ri test site.
According to Chainalysis, an on-chain firm specializing in blockchain analysis, North Korean attackers managed to steal approximately $1.7 billion in cryptocurrency during 2022. In stark contrast, the country’s revenue from exports in 2020 amounted to only $142 million. To launder the stolen funds, North Korean criminals often utilized decentralized exchanges and mixers.