North Korea denies exporting arms to Russia during Ukraine war

North Korea has criticized US intelligence reports of arms transfers to Russia during the war in Ukraine, saying it has not done so and has no intention of doing so and calling the allegations an attempt to tarnish the image of the hermit nation.

In a state media report on Thursday, an unnamed North Korean defense official told the United States to stop making “reckless remarks” and “keep your mouth shut.”

Earlier this month, Biden administration officials confirmed a declassified US intelligence assessment that Russia was buying weapons from North Koreaincluding millions of artillery shells and rockets.

Moscow has also been accused of buying weapons such as drones from countries like Iran in a bid to ease severe supply shortages in Ukraine, aggravated by government-led export controls and sanctions. United States.

The North Korean statement came weeks after Moscow called the US intelligence discovery “false”.

North Korean arms exports to Russia would violate United Nations resolutions banning the country from importing or exporting weapons.

The North Korean official stressed that Pyongyang had never recognized the “illegal” UN Security Council sanctions against the country “prepared by the United States and its vassal forces”.

The official said the export and import of military equipment is a “legitimate right of a sovereign state,” according to an English translation of the statement released by North Korea’s official Central News Agency.

“But we take this opportunity to make one thing clear. We have never exported arms or ammunition to Russia before, and we have no plans to export them,” said the official, who was described as a Deputy Director General of the Ministry of National Defence. general equipment office.

“It is unclear where the rumor that the United States is spreading comes from, but it is aimed at tarnishing the image of the DPRK,” the official said.

Pyongyang is using the war in Ukraine to accelerate its weapons development

Experts say North Korea, if it wishes, could become a major source of small arms, artillery and other ammunition for Russia, given the compatibility of their root-based defense systems Soviets.

North Korea has sought closer ties with Russia even as most of Europe and the West have pulled out, blaming the US for the crisis and decrying ‘hegemonic politics’ of the West as justifying Russian military action in Ukraine to protect itself.

The North Korean government has even hinted that it wants to send construction workers to help rebuild pro-Russian breakaway areas in eastern Ukraine.

In July, North Korea became the only nation besides Russia and Syria to recognize the independence of Moscow-controlled territories in the eastern Donbass region, the so-called people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

North Korea has also used the war as a window to accelerate its own weapons development, testing dozens of weapons, including its first long-range missiles since 2017, tapping into a division in the United Nations Security Council. UN, where Russia and China have blocked Washington’s attempts to toughen sanctions against Pyongyang.

The North has punctuated its testing activity with repeated threats of nuclear conflict with Seoul and Washington.

The latest is a law passed by Pyongyang’s parliament this month that further enshrines the country’s status as a nuclear power and authorizes the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons in a wide range of scenarios where its leadership is threatened. .

Sung Kim, the Biden administration’s special representative for North Korea, met with his South Korean counterpart Kim Gunn in Seoul on Thursday, where they expressed “serious concern” over the escalation of the North’s stated nuclear doctrine. in the new law, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

The diplomats reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to defending South Korea in the event of nuclear war with the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear ones.

The allies also stood by their months-old assessment that North Korea is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017 and discussed “tough” countermeasures to such action, the ministry said.