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U.S. issues warning to North Korea over potential arms deal with Russia

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U.S. officials have cautioned that the nation would “pay a price” if it proceeds with an arms deal with Russia. These warnings come as reports suggest that negotiations between North Korea and Russia are in progress.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan emphasized that if Pyongyang were to provide weapons to Moscow for use in the conflict in Ukraine, it would have grave consequences in the international arena.

Sullivan refrained from detailing the specific repercussions but made it clear that North Korea already faces sanctions from both the United Nations and the United States due to its weapons of mass destruction program.

Sullivan stated, “We have continued to convey privately as well as publicly to the North Koreans – and asked allies and partners to do the same – our view that they should abide by their publicly stated commitments that they’re not going to provide these weapons.”

Earlier this week, the National Security Council revealed that arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea are actively advancing. This development follows a visit by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Pyongyang in July, where he aimed to persuade North Korea to sell artillery ammunition.

Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the National Security Council, noted that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un anticipates ongoing discussions, including potential “leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia.” However, details about when or where a potential meeting between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin might occur remain undisclosed.

When approached for comment, the Russian embassy in Washington did not provide a response, with the Kremlin similarly declining to comment on the matter, stating, “We have nothing to say on the subject.”

The New York Times initially reported on the anticipated meeting between Kim and Putin in Russia, suggesting that it could take place later this month. Sullivan underscored that these negotiations underscore the success of Western economic sanctions in reducing Moscow’s defense industrial base.

“We have also imposed specific targeted sanctions to try to disrupt any effort to use North Korea as a conduit or as a source for weapons going to Russia,” Sullivan remarked.

He also noted that, since the conflict began, there hasn’t been substantial evidence of North Korea actively supplying significant munitions or military capacity to Russia, raising questions about what may have prompted the shift in their approach.

Sullivan acknowledged the uncertainties surrounding the quantity and quality of materials that North Korea might provide, stating, “I think it says a lot that Russia is having to turn to a country like North Korea to seek to bolster its defense capacity, in a war that it expected would be over in a week.”

Last year, North Korea reportedly delivered infantry rockets and missiles to Russia for use by Wagner forces, and the ongoing discussions could potentially furnish Russian troops with a wider array of weapons and raw materials, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

Kirby also emphasized that any potential agreements might encompass “multiple types of munitions” and raw materials sourced from North Korea. Furthermore, Russia has received drones and artillery from Iran.

Concerns extend beyond the weaponry itself, as the U.S. and its allies are wary of the technology North Korea is seeking from Russia in exchange for arms. These technological advancements could potentially enhance North Korea’s satellite and nuclear-powered submarine capabilities, posing a significant advancement in areas where the nation has not fully developed its capacities.

Amid these developments, North Korea’s recent series of intercontinental ballistic missile tests have raised alarm among the U.S. and its allies in South Korea and Japan. These tests have underscored North Korea’s intensified efforts to develop weapons capable of potentially striking major U.S. cities.

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