More evidence points to Russia-North Korea military cooperation, South Korea defence minister says

Australia and South Korea Foreign and Defence Ministers' Meeting in Melbourne

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean defence minister Shin Won-sik said on Saturday that more evidence suggests weapons used by Russia in the war in Ukraine were illegally imported from North Korea.

"Military cooperation between Russia and North Korea" is escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and "also affecting the battlefield in Europe", Shin said.

If North Korea continues to receive military technology transfers from Russia in return, a significant improvement in North Korea's conventional military capability is an imminent risk, Shin said.

The United States said in February that North Korea had delivered more than 10,000 containers of munitions and related material since September to Russia.

Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied accusations that North Korea transferred weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine, which Russia invaded in February 2022.

Shin also called for China to take a more active role on denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

On questions about whether South Korea may seek nuclear weapons of its own, Shin said that South Korea trusts the global nonproliferation treaty (NPT) regime, and that a stronger U.S.-South Korean alliance is the answer to North Korea's nuclear development.

Shin was speaking during the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's biggest defence forum, under way in Singapore. The event ends on June 2.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)