North Korea denies exporting weapons to Russia

Weeks after the United States claimed Moscow was turning to Pyongyang to refill its inventories depleted by invading Ukraine, North Korea on Wednesday denied transferring arms to Russia, according to official media.

“We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them,” an official at the defence ministry’s General Bureau of Equipment said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). 

The declaration follows the White House’s previous September claim that Russia was acquiring rockets and artillery from communist North Korea to help its conflict in Ukraine.

According to John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, American acquisitions “may encompass literally millions of rounds, rockets, and artillery shells.”

He emphasised at the time that the acquisitions had not yet been made and that there was no proof the weapons were being utilised in Ukraine, citing declassified US intelligence.

Also read | Zelenskiy at UNGA: We demand ‘just punishment’ for Russian crimes

Using the official abbreviation for North Korea, Pyongyang, a close ally of Moscow, lashed out at the United States in the statement, claiming that it and “other hostile forces” were “spreading a ‘rumour of arms deals’ between the DPRK and Russia.”

We warn the US to stop making reckless remarks,” it said, while emphasising North Korea maintains the right to export military equipment. 

The purchase of artillery ammunition from the isolated North Korean government and an agreement to purchase military drones from Iran, according to the White House, demonstrated Russia’s dire financial situation following months of Western economic and technological sanctions intended to stymie its war machine.

(With inputs from agencies)