North Korea Criticizes US for Increasing Arms Supply to Russia | Washington

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday accused the United States of concocting a “conspiracy story” over its alleged arms transfer to Russia, saying it never sent artillery shells in Moscow.

Last week, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby accused North Korea of ​​secretly supplying a “significant amount” of munitions to Russia. He said the United States believed North Korea was trying to cover up the transfer route by making it appear that the weapons were being sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa.

“We consider such actions by the United States to be part of its hostile attempt to tarnish (North Korea’s) image in the international arena,” an unidentified deputy director of the military foreign affairs office said. ministry in a statement released by the official media.

“We make it clear once again that we have never had an ‘arms trade’ with Russia and that we do not plan to do so in the future,” the deputy director said.

In September, US officials confirmed a new declassification of US intelligence that Russia was buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea. North Korea later dismissed the report, calling on Washington to stop making “reckless remarks” and to “keep your mouth shut”.

On Nov. 2, Kirby said the United States had “an idea” of which country or countries the North might move arms through, but would not specify. He said the North Korean expeditions “will not change the tide of the war”, citing Western efforts to resupply the Ukrainian army.

Hit by international sanctions and export controls, Russia in August purchased Iranian-made drones that U.S. officials said had technical problems. For Russia, experts say North Korea is likely another good option for its ammunition supply, as the North maintains a large stockpile of shells, many of which are copies of Soviet-era ones.

Even as most of Europe and the West have retreated, North Korea has pushed for closer ties with Russia, blaming the US for the crisis and decrying “hegemonic politics”. of the West as justifying Russian military action in Ukraine to protect itself. In July, North Korea became the only nation outside Russia and Syria to recognize the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent.

The North Korean government has also hinted that it wants to send construction workers to help rebuild pro-Russian breakaway areas in eastern Ukraine.

North Korea’s possible arms supply to Russia would be a violation of UN resolutions that prohibit the North from trading arms with other countries. But North Korea is unlikely to receive further sanctions for it due to a split in the UN Security Council over America’s confrontations with Russia over its war in Ukraine and its separate strategic competitions. with China.

Earlier this year, Russia and China already vetoed a US-led attempt to toughen sanctions against North Korea for its series of ballistic missile tests which are banned by several Council resolutions. UN security.

Some observers say North Korea has also used Russian aggression in Ukraine as a window to step up weapons testing activities and increase pressure on the United States and South Korea. The North last week tested dozens of missiles in response to large-scale aerial drills between the United States and South Korea, which Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal for a possible invasion.

In a separate statement carried by state media on Tuesday, a senior North Korean diplomat criticized UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ recent condemnation of North Korea’s missile launch barrage, calling it of “spokesman” for the American government.

“The UN secretary-general echoes what the White House and the State Department say as if he were their mouthpiece, which is deplorable,” said Kim Son Gyong, vice-president. Minister of International Organizations at the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Kim said Guterres’ “unjust and prejudicial behavior” has contributed to heightened tensions in the region.

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Martin E. Berry