North Korea dismisses as ‘baseless’ US allegations of arms supplies to Russia: state media

North Korea said on Tuesday that US claims that Pyongyang was supplying artillery munitions to Moscow for its war in Ukraine were baseless, state media KCNA reported.

The rebuke comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula after a series of North Korean weapons tests last week – including an intercontinental ballistic missile – as the United States and South Korea conducted their largest air force exercise.

The United States and South Korea have warned that recent repeated missile launches from the North could lead to a nuclear test.

Tuesday’s statement refuted claims made last week by White House national security spokesman John Kirby who said artillery from North Korea to Russia was arriving under the guise of shipments to the Middle East or Africa.

“Recently, the United States has been constantly spreading a baseless ‘arms smuggling rumor’ between the DPRK and Russia,” North Korea’s Deputy Director of Military Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement. , according to KCNA.

According to the statement, North Korea sees the ‘rumor’ as part of the ‘hostile US attempt to tarnish the image of the DPRK in the international arena’, using an acronym for Korea’s official name. North.

“We make it clear once again that we have never had an ‘arms trade’ with Russia and that we have no plans to do so in the future,” the statement added.

Kirby had said that US officials did not know if Russia had actually received the munitions, but were trying to monitor shipments.

US reports indicate that North Korea is “secretly supplying the Russian war in Ukraine with a significant number of artillery shells, while masking the true destination of the arms deliveries by trying to give the impression that they are sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa,” Kirby told reporters on Wednesday.

He said the United States believed the ‘significant’ number of shells sent was enough to help Russia prolong the war – which began with Moscow’s invasion of its former Soviet neighbor in February – but not enough to give him an advantage over Ukrainian forces, which are provided by the United States and NATO allies.

– Sign of Russia’s “shortages” –

In September, Pyongyang denied a White House claim that it planned to provide munitions to help the Russian military replenish its stockpiles, which have been badly depleted by the now eight-month war.

Kirby said the shipments were “a sign of Russia’s defense article shortages and needs” as they face international sanctions limiting their resupply capabilities, which he says is also the reason for which Iran sends drone supplies.

Kirby would not say how or by what routes North Korean munitions travel.

He said the United States would consult with allies and partners, particularly at the United Nations, on what steps could be taken.

North Korea’s latest warning against the United States came just a day after its previous repudiation, with Pyongyang on Monday promising a “resolute and overwhelming” military response to last week’s U.S.-South Korean war drills.

The North Korean military has confirmed that its latest ballistic missile tests were a response to Washington and Seoul’s so-called Operation Vigilant Storm.

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