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North Korea denies exporting weapons to Russia

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Yonhap News/Newscom/Zuma Press/TNS)
September 25, 2022

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

North Korea’s Defense Ministry has denied that it has provided weapons and ammunition to Russia amid the war in Ukraine, calling the allegations “rumors” spread by “hostile forces” aimed at tarnishing Pyongyang’s image.

“We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them,” an unidentified senior defense official said in a September 21 statement carried by state media.

The statement came after Washington earlier this month confirmed a declassified U.S. intelligence assessment that claimed that Russia was in the process of purchasing weapons from North Korea to ease supply shortages amid its war in Ukraine.

Such exports, said to include artillery shells and rockets, would violate UN resolutions stemming from North Korea’s nuclear program that bar it from importing or exporting weapons.

Moscow has called the U.S. intelligence findings “fake.”

The unidentified North Korean official, in the state media report, told Washington to stop making “reckless remarks” and to “keep its mouth shut.”

Russia has recently purchased military drones from Iran, another state under U.S. and international sanctions, to boost its military campaign against Ukraine, which has reportedly depleted Moscow’s stocks of ammunition and military equipment.

Sanctions limiting Russia’s purchase of microchips and other equipment is also seen as contributing to Moscow’s difficulties in maintaining military supplies.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby earlier this month said that Moscow could potentially purchase millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea, although he said that Washington had no evidence any sales had taken place.

Last week, British intelligence analysts said that Russia was “almost certainly increasingly sourcing weaponry” from Iran and North Korea.