White House: North Korea, Russia arms talks advancing

WASHINGTON (Reuters): The United States is concerned that arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea are advancing actively, the White House said on Wednesday.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told a press briefing that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had tried on a visit to North Korea to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had exchanged letters pledging to increase their cooperation and said the United States had intelligence that indicated another group of Russian officials had traveled to Pyongyang after the defense minister’s visit.

The North Korean and Russian missions to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Washington has warned before that North Korea could provide more weapons to Russia, whose forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022, a war that the United States and its European allies vehemently oppose and Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

Earlier this month the United States imposed sanctions on three entities it accused of being tied to arms deals between North Korea and Russia.

Kirby said North Korea delivered infantry rockets and missiles into Russia last year and Moscow has been seeking to acquire additional munitions since then.

“We remain concerned that … the DPRK continues to consider providing military support to Russia’s military forces in Ukraine,” Kirby said, referring to North Korea and citing “new information” that such talks were advancing.

“High level discussions may continue in coming months,” he said.

Under the potential deals, Russia would receive munitions that the military plans to use against Ukraine, Kirby said. The deals could also include raw materials that would help Russia’s defense industrial base.

“We urge the DPRK to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia,” Kirby said.

At the United Nations, the U.S. ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield delivered a statement on behalf of the United States, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom that any arms deals between Russia and North Korea would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.