North Korea sends '1,000 containers' of weapons to Russia

Kim Jong-un shaking hands with Vladimir Putin during their meeting (KCNA VIA KNS/AFP via Getty Image)
Kim Jong-un shaking hands with Vladimir Putin during their meeting (KCNA VIA KNS/AFP via Getty Image)

North Korea has delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia for its war in Ukraine, the White House said.

John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, said that the US believes the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is seeking sophisticated weapons technologies in return to boost his nuclear programme.

The White House released images that showed containers being loaded onto a Russian-flagged ship before being moved via train to southwestern Russia. The containers were shipped from September 7 and October 1 between Najin, North Korea, and Dunay, Russia, according to the White House.

“We condemn the DPRK for providing Russian with this military equipment, which will be used to attack Ukrainian cities and kill Ukrainian civilians and further Russia’s illegitimate war,” Kirby said, using the initials for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name.

“In return for support, we assess that Pyongyang is seeking military assistance from Russia including fighter aircraft, surface to air missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment, or other materials and other advanced technologies.”

Kim spent five days in Russia last month and met Putin at the Vostochny spaceport in the country’s far east. He also visited military factories, inspected aircraft and missile systems, and inspected the Russian navy at its base in Vladivostok.

No announcement was made, but the American government believes that the two leaders agreed on the transfer of North Korean arms in return for Russian technical help.

Last week CBS News quoted an unnamed US official who said that the North had begun sending artillery to Russia. The same day, commercial satellite photographs revealed 73 freight cars on sidings in Tumangang, which is close to the railway bridge that connects Russia and North Korea across the Tumen river.

The US government has urged Russia not to conduct any arms deals with North Korea, which are banned under UN security council resolutions that Moscow has supported.

“When you see Kim Jong-un vowing to provide full, unconditional support for Russia’s so-called ‘sacred fight’ to defend its security interests that of course is troubling,” Matthew Miller, the state department spokesman, said after the summit last month.

“When you see what looks to be increased co-operation and probably military transfers as we’ve said, we have reason to believe they were going to discuss military transfers that is quite troubling and would potentially be in violation of multiple UN security council resolutions.”