Go to contents

Gov’t acknowledges details of N. Korea’s weapon supply to Russia

Gov’t acknowledges details of N. Korea’s weapon supply to Russia

Posted September. 16, 2023 08:09,   

Updated September. 16, 2023 08:09


As North Korea and Russia solidified their military cooperation through a summit meeting, which hinted at a potential arms deal, the Ministry of National Defense made a statement. They stated, "Indications suggest that North Korea is supplying weapons to Russia." Going beyond their previous somewhat vague position, the Ministry of National Defense affirmed that there is a likelihood of arms trade between the two countries, officially confirm‎ing the provision of North Korean weapons to Russia.

During a briefing on Friday, an official from the Ministry of National Defense stated, "We have gathered evidence suggesting that North Korea is involved in providing weapons, and we have been consistently monitoring this situation in collaboration with South Korea and the United States." When asked about the possibility of providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, the Ministry of National Defense clarified that there was no change in the current government policy, which refrains from directly supplying lethal arms. "Our focus will be on implementing sanctions in accordance with international norms," a senior government official expressed. "If there is no change in the behavior of North Korea and Russia, we may consider direct support in the future."

Previously, the Ministry of National Defense acknowledged the possibility of North Korea providing weapons to Russia in July when foreign media outlets, including the Financial Times from the United Kingdom, reported the discovery of North Korean-manufactured multiple rocket launchers on a Ukrainian battlefield. At that time, the Ministry of National Defense released images of artillery shells with Korean writing found on the scene. However, their official response had been somewhat cautious, stating that such weapons support was possible or that they were closely monitoring related developments. In contrast, during the recent announcement, the Ministry elevated the level of its statement by effectively confirm‎ing that North Korea had indeed supplied weapons, including artillery shells, to Russia. They stated, "The circumstances of weapons provision have been verified." Our government had been aware of North Korea's weapons support to Russia for several months, gathering information through reconnaissance satellites, but had not publicly confirmed it until now.

"Taking advantage of the North Korea-Russia summit, our government is sending a strong message that it is well aware of North Korea's open provision of weapons support and closely monitoring the developments in the arms trade,” a South Korean government insider stated. “This stance serves as a warning to both North Korea and Russia, conveying that, should they escalate their activities, South Korea and the international community will hold them accountable for their actions."

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com