October 27, 2023
SEOUL – The top diplomats of South Korea, the US and Japan strongly condemned the supply of military equipment and munitions by North Korea to Russia, confirming some of the deliveries in a joint statement Thursday.
Foreign Minister Park Jin and his US and Japanese counterparts — Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, respectively — said such supplies would raise the “human toll” in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“We remain resolved to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and its efforts to counter the effects of Russia’s war of aggression,” the statement said, calling for greater attention to potential transfers of weapons technologies North Korea would obtain in return for advancing its nuclear arsenal and missiles.
Any arms deals run counter to global efforts to “keep sensitive technologies out of the hands of actors” looking to threaten peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but around the globe, the statement added, noting Moscow would be violating UN Security Council resolutions it had voted for to ban such military exchanges.
In mid-October, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirmed the North’s weapons deliveries to Russia, though he did not specify the kind of munitions sent to Moscow. Washington said a summit last month between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin was meant to facilitate arms deals.
“We urge the DPRK and Russia to abide by relevant UN Security Council resolutions and immediately cease all activities that violate them,” the statement said.
South Korea and the US have said they will impose sanctions to curb North Korea’s pursuit of weapons technologies, as the isolated regime looks for better satellites and submarines. Pyongyang is planning on a third spy satellite launch after two previous failures, having recently unveiled what it says is a submarine capable of launching tactical nuclear weapons.
Kim reaffirmed closer ties with Russia last week, saying the two countries should work on containing “American hegemony” at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Pyongyang. The North Korean leader warned US strategic assets like its nuclear-capable bomber B-52H would be the first to “face annihilation.”