Crypto crash threatens North Korea's weapon plans

STORY: The nosedive in cryptocurrency markets has wiped out millions of dollars stolen by North Korean hackers.

That's according to four digital investigators.

They say that threatens a key source of funding for Pyongyang and its weapons programs.

The U.S. Treasury says sanctions-stricken North Korea has poured resources into stealing crypto in recent years and is a potent hacking threat.

It was allegedly behind one of the largest cryptocurrency heists on record in March, stealing around $615 million.

The plunge in crypto values started in May amid a broader economic slowdown.

Pyongyang may now have to rethink how to fund its weapons programs, two South Korean government sources said.

A record number of missile tests have cost it as much as $620 million so far this year, according to the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul.

And it plans to resume nuclear testing despite an economic crisis.

New York-based analytics firm Chainalysis has monitored old, unlaundered North Korean crypto holdings that include funds stolen in 49 hacks from 2017 to 2021.

It says their value has decreased from $170 million to $65 million this year.

A 2021 heist previously worth tens of millions of dollars has lost 80-85% of its value in the last few weeks.

An analyst with TRM Labs, another U.S.-based blockchain analysis firm, told Reuters that's now worth less than $10 million.