North Korea has claimed it has never supplied weapons or ammunition to Russia, and has no plans to do so, adding that “reckless” US reports on arms sales were an attempt to tarnish its image.
“Recently, the US and other hostile forces discussed the ‘violation of a UN Security Council resolution’ [UN security council]spreading a ‘rumor about arms trade’ between the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] and Russia … we have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia and we do not intend to export them,” the state-controlled KCNA news agency said on Thursday.
The statement quoted, but did not name, the DPRK’s vice director general of the Ministry of National Defense’s General Equipment Bureau
KCNA quoted the official as calling on Washington to stop making “reckless comments” and “shut up”.
Biden administration officials confirmed a declassified US intelligence assessment earlier this month that North Korea was selling weapons to Russia in violation of UN Security Council sanctions banning Pyongyang from importing or exporting weapons.
The inventory reportedly included millions of artillery shells and missiles, as Moscow’s efforts to resolve Ukraine’s severe supply shortages were exacerbated by US-led export controls and sanctions.Read:Nigeria battling floods ‘beyond control’ as warning given of dams overflowing | Nigeria
The official cited in Thursday’s report said North Korea has never acknowledged “unlawful” UN sanctions imposed in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, adding that arms trafficking is “lawful right.” is peculiar to a sovereign state,” according to an English translation. of the statement.
“But we take the opportunity to make one thing clear. We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia and we do not intend to export them,” the official said. It is not certain where the rumor the US is spreading comes from, but it is intended to enhance the image of the DPRK. to affect.”
Calling the reported sale of weapons a “potential purchase,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby clarified that there was “no indication that the purchase has been completed, and certainly no indication that those weapons are being made in Ukraine.” used”.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul and commentator on North Korean affairs, said the regime’s denial of arms sales should be treated with caution.
“North Korea prefers to keep its arms sales under the table, not only because such transactions can be affected by sanctions, but also because Pyongyang’s customers are also involved in other illicit behavior,” he said.Read:Tropical Storm Gaston forms over Atlantic as new wave east of Windward Islands could become next named storm
“North Korean claims are not credible, especially since the Kim regime, like Putin’s Russia, is trying to spread counter-narratives against US intelligence and international criticism.”
Experts believe North Korea could theoretically become a major source of small arms, artillery and other ammunition for Russia, as both have defense systems based on those developed during the Soviet era.
Despite Thursday’s denial of arms sales, North Korea has expressed hopes of strengthening ties with Russia since the war began in Ukraine. It has blamed the US for the conflict and said the Russian military action was a justified response to Western “hegemonic policies.”
North Korea has also expressed interest in sending construction workers to help rebuild pro-Russian breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.Read:Imagery shows N.Korea may soon launch new missile submarine – think tank
North Korea traditionally earned foreign exchange by sending its citizens abroad. They would have been repatriated under UN sanctions by the end of 2019, but significant numbers of workers from the country have reportedly continued to work in Russia and China, as well as in Laos and Vietnam, since the deadline.
In July, North Korea became the only country to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk territories, alongside Russia and Syria.
In a letter marking Korea’s anniversary last month of the liberation of 35 years of Japanese rule at the end of World War II, Putin told his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un that their countries “would establish comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations.” expand with common efforts”.
In a message to Putin, Kim said “strategic and tactical cooperation, support and solidarity” between the two countries had reached a new level amid their concerted efforts to frustrate threats and provocations from “enemy forces”.