NKorea dismisses US claims of arms sales to Russia as ‘baseless’: state media

NKorea dismisses US claims of arms sales to Russia as ‘baseless’: state media


North Korea said Tuesday that claims by the United States that Pyongyang was supplying artillery ammunition to Moscow for its war in Ukraine were unfounded, state media outlet KCNA reported.

The rebuke comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula following a series of North Korean weapons tests last week – including an ICBM – as the United States and South Korea conducted their largest-ever air force exercise.

The United States and South Korea have warned that the North’s repeated missile launches in recent times could culminate in a nuclear test.

Tuesday’s statement dismissed claims by White House national security spokesman John Kirby, who said the artillery was coming from North Korea to Russia under the guise of supplies to the Middle East or Africa.

“Recently, the US has been persistently spreading an unfounded ‘arms deal’ rumor between the DPRK and Russia,” North Korea’s deputy director for foreign military affairs at the defense ministry said in a statement, according to KCNA

The statement said North Korea saw the “rumour” as part of the “United States hostile attempt to tarnish the DPRK’s image in the international arena,” using an acronym for North Korea’s official name.

“We make it clear once again that we have never had ‘arms deals’ with Russia and that we have no plans to do so in the future,” the statement added.

Kirby had said US officials did not know if Russia had actually received the ammunition but were trying to monitor shipments.

US intelligence suggests that North Korea is “covertly supplying a significant number of artillery shells to Russia’s war in Ukraine, while obscuring the true destination of the arms shipments by trying to make it appear that they are going to Middle Eastern countries or North Africa,” Kirby told reporters on Wednesday.

He said the United States believes the “significant” number of shells sent is enough to help Russia prolong the war – which began with Moscow’s invasion of its former Soviet neighbor in February – but not enough to end it to gain an advantage over the Ukrainian armed forces. supplied by the United States and NATO allies.

– Sign of Russia’s “scarcity” –

In September, Pyongyang dismissed a White House claim that it planned to provide ammunition to help the Russian military replenish stocks badly depleted by the now eight-month war.

Kirby said the shipments are “a sign of Russia’s own shortage and need for defense items” as they face international sanctions limiting their replenishment capabilities, which he says is also why Iran is sending drone shipments.

Kirby declined to say how the North Korean munitions are traveling or on what routes.

He said the US would consult with allies and partners, particularly at the United Nations, about what action could be taken.

North Korea’s latest admonition against the United States comes just a day after its previous rebuff, with Pyongyang on Monday pledging a “resolute and overwhelming” military response to last week’s war drills between the US and South Korea.

The North Korean military confirmed that its recent ballistic missile tests were in response to Washington and Seoul’s so-called Vigilant Storm operation.

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