Three United States Senators, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Tim Kaine, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, have recently taken action to address North Korea’s illicit use of digital assets. They urged the Biden administration to crack down on North Korea’s use of cryptocurrency to fund its nuclear program and evade sanctions. This was in a letter sent to the White House and Treasury Department.

Concerns Over North Korea’s Cryptocurrency Funding

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal on August 4, the senators demanded information on how the U.S. government is tackling the issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) use of digital assets.

Importantly, the letter highlighted alarming reports suggesting that North Korean hackers have been responsible for stealing more than $3 billion in cryptocurrencies since 2018. They believed that the stolen were used to finance the country’s missile program. This, as a result, poses a significant threat to global security.

North Korea’s Growing Expertise in Digital Assets

In their letter, the senators further pointed out that North Korea has been systematically developing expertise in the realm of digital assets over the past few years. This has raised serious concerns within the U.S. government and the international community about the potential misuse of cryptocurrencies for funding illegal activities and evading sanctions.

North Korean Flag and Bitcoin

Furthermore, news agencies have previously reported on hackers connected to North Korea using crypto mixers to obfuscate the origins of stolen funds. This further makes it difficult for authorities to track and prevent illicit transactions.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control took action in November 2022 by adding Tornado Cash to its list of sanctioned entities. Concerns over cryptocurrency’s role in financing North Korea’s nuclear program further propelled this move.

Warren’s Efforts to Curb Illicit Use of Cryptocurrencies

Notably, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been at the forefront of efforts to crack down on the illicit use of cryptocurrencies. She has proposed legislation to strengthen Anti-Money Laundering requirements. Additionally, she raised concerns about the link between digital asset payments and Chinese companies providing precursors for opioid fentanyl.

Additionally, Warren was instrumental in pushing for provisions against crypto mixers and privacy coins in the National Defense Authorization Act in July. However, this was in collaboration with other senators.

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