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May 17, 2024

Kim Yo Jong Denies North Korea-Russia Arms Deal Allegations

Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, firmly denied allegations on Friday that North Korea has been supplying weapons to Russia. She dismissed external speculations regarding North Korean-Russian arms dealings as “the most absurd paradox.”

The United States, South Korea, and other nations have consistently accused North Korea of providing artillery, missiles, and other conventional weapons to Russia to support its war in Ukraine. In return, they claim North Korea receives advanced military technology and economic aid from Russia. However, both North Korea and Russia have repeatedly rejected these accusations.

Foreign experts suggest that North Korea’s recent series of artillery and short-range missile tests might be designed to evaluate or demonstrate the weapons intended for sale to Russia. Yet, Kim Yo Jong dismissed these assessments, labeling them as baseless and unworthy of serious consideration.

“We have no intention to export our military technical capabilities to any country or to disclose them publicly,” she stated in a message conveyed by state media. She emphasized that North Korea’s recent weapons tests are part of a five-year arms buildup plan initiated in 2021. According to her, these weapons are specifically intended to target Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

Kim Yo Jong candidly stated, “We don’t conceal the fact that such weapons will be used to prevent Seoul from harboring any idle thoughts.” This direct acknowledgment highlights North Korea’s defensive posture against South Korea.

Contradicting Kim Yo Jong’s denials, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik asserted in March that North Korea had shipped approximately 7,000 containers filled with munitions and military equipment to Russia since the previous year. In return, North Korea reportedly received over 9,000 Russian containers likely containing aid.

In January, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby claimed that North Korean-supplied missiles were used in the Ukraine conflict. Ukrainian officials supported this claim, citing an investigation into missile debris found in the northeastern Kharkiv region, which they suggested likely originated from North Korea.

Any weapons trade with North Korea would violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions that Russia, a permanent member of the council, had previously endorsed. This context intensifies the scrutiny on the alleged arms dealings between the two nations.

In May, the White House reported that Russia was shipping refined petroleum to North Korea at levels exceeding UN Security Council limits. This revelation further indicates the deepening ties between North Korea and Russia amid their separate confrontations with the United States—North Korea over its advancing nuclear program and Russia over its prolonged war in Ukraine.

Since 2022, North Korea has conducted a provocative series of missile tests, prompting the United States to expand its military drills with South Korea and Japan. Foreign experts believe that North Korea aims to enhance its leverage in future diplomatic negotiations with the United States by expanding its weapons arsenal.

As the international community closely monitors the evolving relationship between North Korea and Russia, the denials from Pyongyang juxtaposed with the allegations from Washington and Seoul underscore the complexity of global arms dynamics and geopolitical tensions.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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