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North Korea denies sending weapons to Russia amid Ukraine war

Seoul, South Korea — North Korea says it did not export any weapons to Russia during the war in Ukraine and has no plans to do so, adding that US intelligence reports on the arms transfers were an attempt. force to tarnish North Korea’s image.

In a state media report on Thursday, an unnamed North Korean defense official told the US to stop making “reckless remarks” and to “keep your mouth shut.” . Biden administration officials earlier this month confirmed a declassified US intelligence assessment that Russia was in the process of buying weapons from North Korea, including millions of artillery shells and missiles, as Moscow worked to reduce alleviate a severe supply shortage in Ukraine due to US-led export controls. and sanctions.

The North Korean statement came weeks after Moscow described the US intelligence findings as “fake”.

North Korean arms exports to Russia would violate United Nations resolutions banning the country from importing or exporting weapons.

The North Korean official stressed that Pyongyang has never recognized the “illegal” UN Security Council sanctions against the country “made up by the US and its vassal forces”. . The official said the export and import of military equipment is a “special legal right for a sovereign state,” according to the English translation of the statement released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency. Tien announced.

“But we took this opportunity to make one thing clear. We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we have no plans to export them,” said the official, who is described as deputy director of the General Department of Equipment of the Ministry of Defense. said.

“It is not clear where the rumor that the US is spreading is coming from, but it is aimed at tarnishing the image of North Korea,” the official said, referring to the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Korean people.

Faced with sanctions and export controls, in August Russia purchased an Iranian-made drone that US officials said had technical problems. Experts say North Korea, if ready, could become a source of small arms, artillery and other munitions for Russia, considering the compatibility of its defense systems based on provenance. Soviet Union.

North Korea has sought to tighten ties with Russia even as much of Europe and the West withdrew, blaming the US for the crisis and decrying the West’s “hegemonic policy” as justification for action. Russian military in Ukraine to protect itself.

North Korea has also used war as a window to speed up its weapons development, testing dozens of weapons including its first long-range missile since 2017, exploiting divisions in United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China have blocked US tightening efforts. punish Pyongyang.

The North Korean government has also hinted that it is interested in sending construction workers to help rebuild pro-Russian separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. In July, North Korea became the only country besides Russia and Syria to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk territories.

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