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US alleges North Korea of providing over 1,000 containers of military equipment, arms to Russia

After his visit to Russia last month where he met Putin, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for an exponential increase in the production of nuclear weapons. North Korea has been expanding its nuclear arsenal in the wake of growing deployment of US assets to its arch-nemesis South Korea.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Washington Published on: October 14, 2023 13:06 IST
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with Russian President
Image Source : AP North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White House on Friday alleged North Korea of providing 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia to be used in its offensive in the ongoing war with Ukraine. Speculations of Pyongyang aiding the Russian war effort were rife during Kim Jong Un's visit last month to Russia.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Friday said that the US believes that Kim is seeking sophisticated Russian weapons technologies in return for the munitions to boost North Korea's nuclear programme on the heels of its growing antagonism to US-South Korea military cooperation.

The White House has released images claiming that it showed containers loaded onto a ship with a Russian flag before being moved via train to Russia. The containers were shipped between September 7 and October 1 between North Korea's Najin and Russia's Dunay, it said.

When Kim visited Russia in September, the US had accused North Korea of providing ammunition, artillery shells and rockets to Russia. After returning from the visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kim reportedly called for an exponential increase in the production of nuclear weapons and for his country to play a larger role in a coalition of nations confronting the United States in a “new Cold War,” as per North Korean state-controlled media.

According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim deepened “comradely fellowship and friendly ties” with Putin during his six-day trip and the two countries said that they discussed boosting their defence ties further.

What do North Korea and Russia want?

Kim's meeting with Putin was being watched closely by Western countries amid concerns that North Korea may provide Russia will millions of artillery shells and rockets based on Soviet design that can provide a major boost in Russia's war against Ukraine. In return, Pyongyang will seek desperately-needed shipments of food and energy along with modern weapons technologies.

In terms of weaponry, the North Korean leader is likely to seek Russian technology to support his plan to build an array of high-tech weapons systems like long-range missiles, ballistic weapons, nuclear submarines, spy satellites. North Korea has increased weapons production amid tense relations with the US and South Korea.

On the other hand, Russia is already facing international sanctions and export controls over the Ukraine conflict, which has caused Putin to seek weapons from other sanctioned countries like North Korea and Iran. An arms deal with Pyongyang will complicate efforts of a peaceful resolution proposed repeatedly by other countries.

North Korea has grown closer to Russia since the latter's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Speculations over military cooperation between the countries grew after Shoigu made a rare visit to an arms exhibition and military parade in North Korea in July. Pyongyang has also made concerted efforts to provide a united front against the US.

This is Kim's first meeting with a foreign leader since North Korea closed its borders in January 2020. Putin and Kim had met in 2019, after the latter's nuclear diplomacy talks with former US President Donald Trump collapsed.

(with AP inputs)

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