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North Korea sending munitions to Russia for war, White House says


WASHINGTON — The United States on Wednesday accused North Korea of ​​secretly shipping a “significant number” of artillery shells to Russia to support its war effort in Ukraine, a sign that Moscow is increasingly turning its back to pariah states for military supplies as the conflict persists.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said it was unclear whether the artillery munitions, which are being transferred across the Middle East and North Africa, had reached Russia. The United States does not believe that the additional weapons will change the trajectory of the war.

“Our indications are that the DPRK is supplying covertly and we will be monitoring to see if deliveries are being received,” Kirby told reporters on Wednesday, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Our information indicates that they are trying to obscure the method of supply by routing them to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.”

North Korea said in September it had never supplied arms or ammunition to Russia and had no plans to do so.

The Biden administration said in September that Russia was seeking to buy artillery shells and rockets from North Korea. The United States also fears that Iran will send drones and surface-to-surface missiles.

Mr Kirby said Russia has now gone beyond purchasing such artillery and made purchases. He did not say how the weapons were being transported or whether the United States intended to try to intercept them.

The United States believes that Ukraine will continue to have the ability to defend itself if North Korean munitions reach Russia.

“We don’t believe this will change the tide of the war,” Mr. Kirby said.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press conference Wednesday that the United States would use “all tools” to enforce existing sanctions against North Korea, and would “examine tools and additional authorities that we may call on”. to counter this activity.

He also urged countries that have relations with North Korea to pressure its government not to supply weapons to Russia.

Michael Crowley contributed report.

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