US, allies warn of North Korea-Russia military cooperation

new york — The United States and its allies warned Friday that expanding military cooperation between Russia and North Korea is dangerous, illegal and a growing threat to the wider international community.

“Last week, Russian and DPRK leaders signed a ‘Treaty on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,’ paving the way for further deepening their military cooperation,” Robert Wood, U.S. deputy U.N. ambassador, told reporters, surrounded by representatives of nearly 50 like-minded countries.

“We are deeply concerned about the security implications of the advancement of this cooperation for Europe, the Korean Peninsula, the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.”

DPRK is the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Wood spoke ahead of a meeting of the U.N. Security Council requested by the United States, Britain, France, Japan and South Korea to discuss North Korea’s transfer of arms and munitions to Russia, which are helping drive the Kremlin’s war machine in Ukraine. Such transfers would violate a U.N. arms embargo on North Korea.

“Before February 2022, it was hard to imagine that the war in Ukraine would pose such a direct threat to the security of the Korean Peninsula,” South Korean Ambassador Joonkook Hwang told council members. “But now we are facing a new reality.”

He said South Korea’s national defense ministry has assessed that since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a summit in Russia in September, Pyongyang has shipped at least 10,000 containers to Russia that can hold a total of as many as 5 million artillery shells. His government has also determined that 122-millimeter artillery shells made in North Korea were included in the weapons Russia has used against Ukraine.

In return for the weapons, North Korea is seeking trade and military assistance from Russia, which would violate U.N. sanctions. It is also benefiting from Russia’s political protection in the Security Council.

“All these developments can bring about a shift in the global security landscape, and the potential long-term effects are dangerously uncertain,” Hwang said, adding that Seoul would “resolutely respond” to any threats to its security in a “prudent and measured” way.

U.N. sanctions experts detailed prohibited transfers of military equipment and munitions from North Korea to Russia in a report in February — which Moscow denied. Russia then used its Security Council veto to shut down the 14-year-old monitoring panel in April.

Russia’s envoy again dismissed accusations it is getting weapons from North Korea at Friday’s meeting.

“This is completely false,” Vassily Nebenzia told the council, adding that the two countries’ cooperation “is exclusively constructive and legitimate in nature.”

Nebenzia dismissed the panel of experts’ findings as controlled and directed by the West.

“The panel of experts have been following those orders given them and turning in the direction they were told to turn,” he said.

North Korea’s envoy defended Pyongyang and Moscow’s treaty, saying relations between the two countries “are completely peace-loving and defensive in nature.”

“Therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to be concerned about development of their bilateral relations, unless they have intention to undertake a military invasion of the DPRK and Russian Federation,” Ambassador Song Kim said.

China, which has traditionally been North Korea’s closest ally, expressed concern about heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

“China calls on parties concerned to be rational and pragmatic and to find joint efforts to find a solution,” Deputy Ambassador Geng Shuang said.

Washington’s envoy urged Beijing to use its influence with both Pyongyang and Moscow to persuade them to cease their “increasingly dangerous cooperation.”

“So I appeal to my Chinese colleague to understand that if indeed the situation on the Korean Peninsula continues on the trajectory it’s going, the United States and its allies will have to take steps to defend their security,” Wood said.

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