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US, South Korea and Japan condemn North Korea over arms trade with Russia

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 18, 2024 3:32 PM 3 min read
Russian leader Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Amur region ahead of talks on Sept. 13, 2023. (Vladimir Smirnov/AFP via Getty Images)
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The nuclear envoys of the U.S., South Korea, and Japan condemned North Korea for its weapons trade with Russia, recent missile tests, and increasingly hostile rhetoric at a meeting in Seoul, Reuters reported on Jan. 18.

The three countries have stepped up joint efforts to deter North Korea in recent years, including trilateral meetings and creating a missile warning data-sharing system.

Moscow and Pyongyang have strengthened their military cooperation since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

North Korea's transfer of short-range ballistic missiles and other weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine requires attention and coordinated action, Jung Pak, a U.S. senior official for North Korea, said at the Seoul meeting, as cited by Reuters.

According to the White House, Russia used North Korea-supplied ballistic missiles for the first time to attack Ukraine in late December and early January. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin later said that investigators have gathered preliminary evidence that Russia fired a North Korean missile at Kharkiv in its mass attack on Jan. 2.

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North Korea has supplied Russia with around one million rounds of ammunition, Ukraine’s military intelligence official said on Jan. 15, while South Korea warned on Jan. 11 that its northern neighbor may also sell Russia new types of tactical guided missiles.

The U.S. assesses that in return for supplying the ballistic missiles, North Korea seeks from Russia fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment, and other advanced military technologies.

"The United States is also deeply concerned by the recent uptick in hostile rhetoric, particularly toward the Republic of Korea from the DPRK (North Korean) regime," Pak added in Seoul.

The meeting of the nuclear envoys took place days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for changing his country's constitution to declare South Korea its "primary foe," saying Pyongyang had no intention of avoiding war should it happen.

Japan's envoy, Hiroyuki Namazu, condemned Pyongyang's recent launch of a hypersonic missile, adding there must be close monitoring of what Russia can provide to North Korea in exchange for arms, according to Reuters.

The U.S. and nearly 50 countries earlier called for an immediate end to the delivery of weapons from Pyongyang to Moscow.

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