N. Korea, Russia actively engaged in arms negotiations, says White House

Posted on : 2023-09-01 16:51 KST Modified on : 2023-09-01 16:51 KST
Washington also shared that the leaders of the two countries have exchanged letters
John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesperson. (Reuters/Yonhap)
John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesperson. (Reuters/Yonhap)

Asserting that the two countries are actively engaging in arms negotiations, the White House is calling for North Korea and Russia to cease weapons deals.

Furthermore, the White House is openly pushing back against the increasingly friendly ties between the two countries by revealing intelligence that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin have exchanged letters.

“We are able to share today that arms negotiations between Russia and the DPRK are actively advancing," White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said in a daily briefing on Wednesday, adding that North Korea’s arms sales are in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

“On numerous occasions, the DPRK has said publicly that they will not sell to Russia, but we remain concerned that the DPRK continues to consider providing military support to Russia’s military forces in Ukraine,” Kirby said, going on to state that the US is urging North Korea “to cease its arms negotiations with Russia.”

Kirby also stated in the briefing that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s visit to Pyongyang on July 27, the armistice anniversary, was intended to persuade Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition.

He also said that following Shoigu’s visit, Kim and Putin exchanged letters pledging to increase bilateral cooperation, and other Russian officials visited Pyongyang to discuss the arms deal.

One item Russia clearly wants to buy from North Korea is artillery shells, and, “under these potential deals, Russia would receive significant quantities and multiple types of ammunitions from the DPRK, which the Russian military plans to use in Ukraine,” Kirby said, adding that Russia’s military industry could also be supplied with raw materials.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, held a press conference on the same day to share “new, deeply troubling information” indicating that arms negotiations between North Korea and Russia are actively advancing.

“It is shameful that the Russian Federation – a permanent member of the Security Council – participated in a celebration of the DPRK’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons delivery systems,” Thomas-Greenfield said, claiming that the objective of Shoigu’s trip to Pyongyang was an arms deal.

Last December, the White House had claimed that North Korea provided rockets and missiles to the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary organization that fought in the country’s war with Ukraine.

This past March it was revealed North Korea and Russia were discussing an arms deal. The US indeed recently sanctioned Russian companies and others for their involvement in the Wagner Group’s dealings with North Korea.

The US’ vocal sharing of intelligence on North Korea-Russia arms negotiations in recent months is likely part of an effort to prevent a Russian military buildup in Ukraine.

This is the first time that intelligence that Kim and Putin recently exchanged personal letters has been made public.

This can also be seen as a move by the US to check the strengthening of both North Korea-Russia ties and North Korea-China-Russia ties, after sending several strong warnings to Beijing about providing arms to Russia.

By Lee Bon-young, Washington correspondent

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