North Korea has denied American claims that it supplies artillery shells and ammunition to Russia for use in the war against Ukraine, and today it accused the United States of America (USA) of lying, the Voice of America (VOA) reported.
“We consider such moves by the US as part of its hostile attempt to tarnish (North Korea’s) image in the international arena,” an unidentified deputy director at the military foreign affairs office of the North Korean ministry said in a statement carried by state media.
“Once again, we make it clear that we have never had ‘weapons agreements’ with Russia and we have no plans to do so in the future,” said the deputy director.
The denial came after North Korea conducted dozens of weapons tests, including short-range missiles that are likely nuclear, as well as an intercontinental ballistic missile that could target the US mainland.
The US has accused North Korea, one of the world’s most heavily armed nations, of supplying Soviet-era munitions, such as artillery shells, to replenish Russian supplies depleted in Ukraine.
Last week, Russia sent a train of 30 thoroughbred horses to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, opening the border with its neighbor for the first time in two and a half years.
North Korea has sought to improve relations with Russia, blaming the US for the crisis and denouncing the West’s “hegemonic policy” as justifying Russia’s military action in Ukraine to protect itself. In July, North Korea became the only nation, other than Russia and Syria, to recognize the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent.
A possible delivery of weapons by North Korea to Russia would be a violation of United Nations resolutions that prohibit it from trading arms with other countries.
North Korea is unlikely to face new sanctions, given the split in the UN Security Council over America’s conflict with Russia over its war in Ukraine and its separate strategic contests with China.
Earlier this year, Russia and China already vetoed a US attempt to tighten sanctions on North Korea over its series of ballistic missile tests.
In a separate statement published by state media today, a senior North Korean diplomat criticized UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ recent condemnation of North Korea’s missile launch, calling him a “messenger” of the US government.
“The UN secretary-general repeats what the White House and the State Department say as if he is their spokesperson, which is unfortunate,” said North Korea’s deputy minister for international organizations Kim Son-gyong.
Kim said Guterres’ “unfair and prejudiced behavior” had contributed to worsening tensions in the region.