The White House has warned North Korea against selling ammunition to Russia for its war in Ukraine as tensions between Pyongyang and Washington continue to rise.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday the United States is concerned about possible arms deals between Russia and North Korea.
“We urge the DPRK to halt its arms negotiations with Russia and to honor Pyongyang’s public commitments not to supply or sell arms to Russia,” Kirby said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Kirby added that the US understands that Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu tried to persuade Pyongyang to sell artillery shells to Moscow when he visited North Korea and met with its leader Kim Jong Un in July.
The White House spokesman declined to elaborate on how US officials gathered the intelligence.
The US has warned its competitors and adversaries – including China – not to support Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine.
Kirby’s comments on Wednesday came just weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim exchanged letters promising to strengthen ties between their two countries.
“I am sure that we will strengthen bilateral cooperation in all areas for the benefit of both peoples and for the firm stability and security of the Korean Peninsula and the whole of Northeast Asia,” Putin said in a statement at the time.
Last year, the United States accused North Korea of secretly supplying artillery shells to Russia.
“We remain concerned that … the DPRK continues to consider providing military assistance to Russian forces in Ukraine,” Kirby said, citing “new information” that such talks are moving forward. “High-level discussions could continue in the coming months,” he said.
The North Korean and Russian missions to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
Both North Korea and Russia have previously denied the US gun allegations.
However, North Korea has sided with Russia in the war in Ukraine, insisting that the US-led West’s “hegemonic policies” have forced Moscow to resort to military action to protect its security interests.
Tensions between the US and North Korea
North Korea is under heavy United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs, while Russia also faces a string of US and Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine last year.
“Any kind of security cooperation or arms deal between North Korea and Russia would certainly violate a number of UN Security Council resolutions,” the US State Department said on Aug. 15.
The latest US warning to North Korea comes as Pyongyang continues to fire ICBMs in opposition to Washington.
On Wednesday, the South Korean military said North Korea fired two more ballistic missiles just hours after the US flew a long-range bomber in the region.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the missile launch on Wednesday, saying it posed a threat to regional stability.
North Korea has expressed anger at the US for conducting joint naval exercises with South Korea and Japan, saying earlier this week that the exercises off the Korean Peninsula have “increased the risk of nuclear war”.
Washington, in turn, accuses Pyongyang of violating UN resolutions with its missile tests and of destabilizing the region.
During a trilateral summit near Washington, DC this month, the US, along with South Korea and Japan, pledged to deepen security cooperation against North Korea, including real-time sharing of data on missile launches.
Former US President Donald Trump held direct talks with Kim during his tenure, but under current US President Joe Biden, high-level meetings between the two nations have stalled.
“We remain committed to diplomatic action towards the DPRK and urge the DPRK to engage in the dialogue that we have had for some time,” Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday.
After the first meeting between Trump and Kim in 2018, both countries said in a joint statement that North Korea was committed “to working toward full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
But the promise was never followed by efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
North Korea conducted its first nuclear weapons test in 2006, violating an international ban.
Since then, the UN Security Council has unanimously passed numerous resolutions imposing sanctions on the country over its nuclear program.
Last year, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council proposal to impose more penalties on North Korea, saying the sanctions had not been effective in containing the country’s nuclear program.
Source : www.aljazeera.com