CNBC’s latest piece on bitcoin goes beyond the typical MSM hit-job. It’s a story with potentially major geopolitical implications and, just maybe, the first high-profile example of bitcoin subverting US sanctions and hegemony.
The past few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions for crypto holders – JP Morgan CEO and consummate fraudster Jamie Dimon issued a high-profile drive-by shooting on bitcoin, leveling ad hominem on those who would trade it as “idiots.” Of course, he was not so brash when JP Morgan was still a member and exuberant co-founder of the R3 Consortium, which they left earlier this year. The timing is more than coincidental.
The Communist Party of China also set the crypto world ablaze yet again as they publicly called for the banning of ICOs, and now, closure of cryptocurrency exchanges in the past week. Will the Chinese clamp-down continue indefinitely, allowing periphery States like Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Japan to act as vectors for hot Chinese money avoiding capital controls? Or will the exchanges re-open under a more regulated form sometime down the line? My crypto’s on the latter, but the effect on market sentiment has been undeniably poor.
It was among this maelstrom of headlines that a CNBC story came across my screen: “Bitcoin Mining: A New Way for North Korea to Generate Funds for the Regime.” The article and corresponding video are a blatant attack on cryptocurrencies, complete with moral aggrandizement and fallaciously conflating bitcoin ownership with personally lining the coffers of Kim Jong Un himself. And who, pray tell, is the source behind this piece of “journalism”? None other than the CIA’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, and everyone’s favorite tech monopoly, Google:
North Korea appears to be funding itself with bitcoin, according to a recent report. Recorded Future, an intelligence research firm backed by Google Venture and In-Q-Tel (a venture capital firm funded by the CIA), reported that North Korea began “mining” bitcoin on May 17 and could be using the digital currency to generate income for the regime.
Criminalizing of bitcoin owners aside, it’s easy to see why the CIA is vehemently tracking the limited range of North Korean IP addresses – the “Hermit Kingdom” is notoriously difficult to gather intelligence on, so digital snooping on the “inner party” echelon who have access to the open Internet are low-hanging fruit.
Is this Bitcoin mining the act of a few rank officials or an officially State-sanctioned enterprise?
I don’t know. CNBC and their CIA subcontractor source don’t give us any addresses or transactions to confirm the story or track the flow of this supposed North Korean Bitcoin mine.
But I do know this: North Korea doesn’t manufacture Bitcoin mining ASICs. That’s done almost exclusively in China.
If this story is indeed true, it heralds a new era for Bitcoin – for years we’ve watched as the cryptocurrency has allowed individuals in places like Cyprus, Greece, Venezuela, and India to avoid national capital controls. We may now be witnessing the first high-profile example of entire Nation-States using Bitcoin to subvert transnational capital controls.
Much ado was made last month at the United Nations when China agreed to levy aggressive sanctions on North Korea, cutting off the bulk of the DPRK’s iron, seafood, lead, and (primarily) coal exports overnight. Ostensibly, this would be a major blow to the North Korean economy and put China back in the good PR graces of the (currently) Western-dominated United Nations.
But what if a deal was made?
What if the Communist Party of China made grand concessions to the UN publicly, yet privately, agreed to “purchase” North Korean coal by other means? ASIC mining farms burn plenty of coal power and China is awash in ASIC manufacturers and hashing equipment. It’s not inconceivable that the Chinese government “gifted” North Korea a slew of ASICs in a “cheap coal for cheap bitcoins” swap agreement, effectively creating an “off budget” financial instrument whose sole purpose is to evade UN sanctions!
While this story consists partly of speculation on my part, it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility and definitely supported by the sequence of events preceding it. Moreover, it would signal that energy-producing nations in alliance with China can already subvert Anglo-American sanctions, even without a viable SWIFT alternative or some reintroduction of gold to international commerce. Even as China and Russia have begun to “re-dollarize” throughout 2017 with both loading up on Treasurys and the former halting all gold purchases since October of 2016, Bitcoin has begun to take center stage as an “anti-hegemon” asset.
This has potentially massive implications for the future of sanctions themselves as a weapon of geopolitics, especially as two key BRICS nations (Russia and Brazil) and non-BRICS strategic Chinese partners like Iran are awash in oil to replicate similar arrangements with. Iran has already had to resort to using gold as payment for oil to avert sanctions in the past – Bitcoin’s status as a currency able to stand on par with gold in this regard is a momentous occasion in its history.