Denuclearization, but on the Blockchain

Last last week, an Ethereum researcher got busted for traveling to North Korea to give a talk on blockchain.

I’m inclined to believe his intentions were charitable (generally my default assumption for every person), but traveling to North Korea happens to be a violation of OFAC sanctions, which is Bad.

The Ethereum talk was titled “Blockchain and Peace”, and while I have no knowledge of its contents, that got me thinking. Can blockchain precipitate world peace? Take our current situation with North Korea. The US demands that North Korea hand over its nuclear arsenal before we lift any sanctions. Kim Jong-un remembers that time we pulled a bait-and-switch on Gaddafi after offering Libya the same deal, thus refuses to go first. Bitcoin fixes this.

What if North Korea denuclearizes on the blockchain??? Not in the sense of provenance, where a fallible human records some real-world event on the blockchain. I mean, instead of shipping its nuclear warheads to the US, North Korea could provably denuclearize by converting all its nuclear fuel to bitcoin.

North Korea has stockpiled enough fissile material to build approximately 60 nuclear warheads, which translates to 2400 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium. This can be blended down to about 50 tons of low-enriched uranium, enough to fuel two 1000 MWe nuclear reactors for one year. If that power is entirely devoted to running bitcoin miners, it could generate 20,000 PH/s (2e10 GH/s) resulting in an estimated block reward of 320.92 bitcoin per day, or 117,140 bitcoin per year.

(This is roughly 20% of Bitcoin’s total network hashrate, which could potentially skew the market.)

The private key corresponding to the block rewards should then be used to sign a message indicating disarmament. North Korea doesn’t need to trust the US to uphold its end of the deal because they can use the newly mined bitcoins to render sanctions obsolete.

And that’s how we get World Peace. Nobel Prize, please.