KOREA NEWS Blinken set to discuss Russia-North Korea military ties in...

Blinken set to discuss Russia-North Korea military ties in first Seoul visit, amid Israel-Gaza, Ukraine wars

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The agenda includes “the continued and growing threats posed by a range of North Korean actions, particularly its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes”, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said.

Kritenbrink said Blinken would reiterate the US’ “ironclad commitment to the security” of South Korea and Japan, adding the US would take “robust steps” in its military preparedness and cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo.

“Seoul has made it a rule to not provide any country at war with lethal weapons,” said Park Won-gon, a political-science professor at Ewha Womans University.

“However, if Russia supplies weapons such as MiG-29 fighters to the North, the South would have no alternatives but to take countermeasures, such as the provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine, which would be a game-changer in the war.”

Cheap, fast, good: South Korean weapons in high demand from Malaysia to Poland

Foreign Minister Park said last month that Seoul would retaliate against Russia if Moscow transferred its missile technology to North Korea in arms transactions that would run afoul of UN Security Council resolutions.

South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), said last week the North had exported over 1 million artillery shells to Russia in 10 separate shipments, to support its war in Ukraine, since early August.

This roughly equates to two months of supplies required by Russia in its war with Ukraine, the NIS told lawmakers.

The US also said Pyongyang had sent more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Moscow following a rare summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin in September.

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Kim pledges support to Putin over ‘sacred’ war with the West

Kim pledges support to Putin over ‘sacred’ war with the West

The North is now running its military factories “at full capacity” to meet Russia’s demand for military supplies, the NIS said.

The North “appears to have received technical advice” from Russia, raising the possibility of a successful launch following two failed attempts earlier this year, it said.

The North has said it would try again in October, but no such launch happened.

The NIS also said there were “indications” of the North’s leader Kim issuing an order “to look for ways to comprehensively support the Palestinians”, without giving further details.

North Korea has denied it was supplying arms to Russia. It has also dismissed allegations that its weapons were used by Hamas in the attack against Israel.

Ongoing wars offer South Korea chance to be world’s fourth-largest arms exporter

Concerns are growing that North Korea may gain access to Russia’s military technology but some analysts said the Kremlin has little interest in helping Pyongyang develop its weapons, due to the risk of further sanctions and economic downsides.

“If some technologies are provided to North Korea, the North Koreans are likely to resell them to third parties, which is not necessarily friendly to Russia’s interests,” said Andrei Lankov, a professor of political science at the Kookmin University in Seoul.

“At any rate, sending technologies to North Korea means creating a competitor in the international market,” he added.

Kim Joon-hyung, former head of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, said aside from the North’s military supplies to Russia, the two countries were keen to collaborate on technology, manpower and natural resources.

“If the two countries forge supply chains including weapons and other manufacturing sectors, it would be much more threatening [to the security of the South and the West] than the North’s supply of weapons to Russia,” he said.

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