South Korea, Japan, and the US have issued a joint statement strongly condemning North Korea’s provision of military equipment and munitions to Russia. The statement comes amid escalating tensions and adds another layer of complexity to Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
The tripartite condemnation was spearheaded by South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa. They expressed grave concerns over the shipments, stating that such actions would “significantly increase the human toll of Russia’s war of aggression”.
The statement also highlighted that Russia and North Korea have recently taken steps to strengthen their defence and other ties, according to the Associated Press. This has fueled speculation about North Korea’s provision of arms to Russia, especially after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s visit to Russia last month.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, during his visit to Pyongyang, praised North Korea’s “unwavering” support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. He also proposed regular security talks with North Korea and China, which he said were necessary to cope with increasing US-led regional military threats.
The White House recently revealed that North Korea had delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia. These containers were subsequently moved to southwestern Russia, intensifying concerns about the potential transfer of nuclear or ballistic missile-related technology to North Korea.
The joint statement emphasized that any arms-related deals with North Korea would violate numerous UN Security Council resolutions, which Russia itself had previously voted for. The statement also noted that North Korea has performed more than 100 missile tests since last year, many of which were meant to simulate nuclear attacks on South Korea and the US.
In response to North Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities, the US and South Korea have been expanding their regular military drills. Just this week, the South Korean, US, and Japanese militaries conducted their first-ever trilateral aerial exercise near the Korean Peninsula.