US lawmakers warn of Iranian crypto miners threatening national security

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United States Senators Elizabeth Warren and Angus King penned a letter to officials warning of potential national security threats posed by cryptocurrency miners in Iran.

In a May 1 letter to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the two lawmakers called on the Biden administration to provide information related to possible ties between the Iranian government and local crypto miners and how digital assets might be used to bypass U.S. sanctions. According to Senators Warren and King, Iran has used funds from crypto mining to fund terrorist organizations and the country’s April attack on Israel.

“Iran’s use of crypto to evade sanctions poses a direct threat to our national security,” said the letter. “The Iranian military has used crypto to fund known terrorist groups like Hezbollah, the organization believed to be partially responsible for the January 2024 drone strike in Jordan that killed three U.S. service members […] Unless we take action, Iran will continue to use crypto to fund attacks against Israel.”

Source: The Hill

Senators Warren and King requested U.S. officials provide data on the revenue of crypto miners in Iran, how it is potentially used for money laundering and its response to “address threats to U.S. national security.” The two cited a report from an Iranian think tank saying the government preferred “newly-minted” Bitcoin (BTC), claiming they were “less traceable.” Reports suggested Iranian BTC miners could have produced up to $1 billion in revenue in 2021. 

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Iran has been under various sanctions the United States and international authorities imposed since 1979. Iranian officials previously cracked down on crypto mining in the country, citing concerns about electricity use, but the government legalized the practice in 2019.

Senator Warren continues to be one of the most outspoken anti-crypto voices in the U.S. government, associating the technology with illicit drug trafficking, terrorism and harmful effects on the economy. She is up for reelection in November and will likely face off against Republican candidate and crypto lawyer John Deaton for her Massachusetts Senate seat.

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