National Security Officials Discuss to Combat DPRK’s Crypto Illicit Use in WMD Programs

National Security Advisors of the United States, South Korea and Japan convened to discuss a collective response to North Korea’s illicit crypto financing for weapons of mass destruction programs (WMD).

The discussions were held during a trilateral meeting at the White House on Saturday. Jake Sullivan, the US advisor of National Security, Cho Tae-Yong of South Korea and Takeo Akiba from Japan were present.

They discussed various issues including trilateral cooperation on economic security, and North Korea’s cryptocurrency thefts and its ongoing WMD program.

“The National Security Advisors reviewed progress on a wide range of trilateral initiatives, including… collective efforts to respond to the DPRK’s use of cryptocurrency to generate revenue for its illicit WMD programs.”

International Communities Monitor North Korea’s Crypto Activities

A recent TRM Labs report noted that North Korea-linked hackers stole $200 million worth of cryptocurrencies from January-August 2023. The hack accounted for over 20% of all stolen crypto this year.

The report noted that there has been an increase in the scale of cyber-attacks against cryptocurrency-related businesses by North Korea. It further said that the regime may be increasingly turning to cryptos to fund its weapons proliferation activity.

“This has coincided with an apparent acceleration in the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”

Additionally, blockchain analytics company Chainalysis said in a February report that “most experts agree the North Korean government is using these stolen assets to fund its nuclear weapons programs.”

The international community has been monitoring North Korea’s crypto-related activities closely in recent times. The US accused the infamous North Korean hacking entity Lazarus Group, of stealing over $600 million from Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge in 2022.

The U.S. Treasury Department also introduced new sanctions against North Korea’s cyber activities. It added ‘Sinbad’ mixer, used to launder cryptos, to the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) specially designated sanctions list.