US Warns North Korea Against Selling Weapons as Kim Jong Un Visits Russia

Aldgra Fredly
By Aldgra Fredly
September 12, 2023Asia & Pacific

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is believed to have crossed in Russia on his armored private train, South Korea’s defense ministry said on Tuesday, amid warnings from Washington against North Korea engaging in an arms deal with Russia.

The Kremlin said on Monday that Mr. Kim was visiting Russia “at the invitation of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin,” without specifying the timing and exact purpose of his visit.

According to North Korean state media, the North Korean leader headed to Russia along with leading officials of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, government, and armed forces.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there would be negotiations involving two delegations, and if needed, the leaders would engage in a “one-on-one format.”

On Monday, Mr. Putin arrived in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok to attend the 2023 Eastern Economic Forum, which is slated to wrap up on Sept. 13.

Neither nation has disclosed information about the purpose of their meeting. U.S. officials believe discussions about a potential arms deal will likely occur during Mr. Kim’s visit.

The United States has urged North Korea not to sell weapons to Russia that could be used against Ukraine.

“We urge the DPRK to abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. DPRK is North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The North Korean and Russian leaders last met in April 2019, during which Mr. Kim also made the 20-hour train ride to Vladivostok, roughly 300 miles from the North Korean border.

North Korea Will ‘Pay a Price’

National security advisor Jake Sullivan earlier warned that North Korea will “pay a price” if it supplies weapons to Russia.

NTD Photo
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks at a press briefing at the White House on April 24, 2023. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Mr. Sullivan said that Moscow is seeking support from North Korea because “we have continued to squeeze Russia’s defense industrial base, and they are now going about looking to whatever source they can find for things like artillery ammunition.”

Providing Russia with weapons for its ongoing war against Ukraine “is not going to reflect well on North Korea, and they will pay a price for this in the international community,” the U.S. official added.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last month that any arms deal between the two countries would directly violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“We urge the DPRK to cease its arms negotiations with Russia.  And we are taking action directly to exposing and sanctioning individuals and entities working to facilitate arm deals between Russia and the DPRK,” she told reporters.

North Korea has been subject to U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its weapons of mass destruction program.

North Korea, Russia Ties

Mr. Kim’s visit to Russia follows a Russian defense official’s visit to North Korea in late July. Russian Defense Minister Gen. Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang on July 27 to attend a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the cessation of the Korean War. He was joined by Chinese Communist Party politburo member Li Hongzhong.

The visit was the first known visit to North Korea by a Russian defense minister since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

NTD Photo
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, with Russian delegation led by its Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visits an arms exhibition in Pyongyang, North Korea on July 26, 2023. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

According to South Korea’s spy agency, Mr. Shoigu may have proposed that North Korea join trilateral military drills with China. It remains unclear whether North Korea accepted the offer.

When asked about the alleged proposal on Sept. 4, Mr. Shoigu didn’t confirm making such a proposal to Mr. Kim but said that the two countries are discussing possible joint military drills.

“Why not? These are our neighbors. There’s an old Russian saying: You don’t choose your neighbors, and it’s better to live with your neighbors in peace and harmony,” he told Russian media outlet Interfax.

Russia’s ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora, told Russia’s state news agency TASS that he was not aware of any plans for North Korea to participate in trilateral military drills with China and Russia but that, in his opinion, it would be “appropriate” in light of U.S.-led exercises in the region.

Adam Morrow contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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