There have been about 10 arms shipments from North Korea to Russia since August, the National Intelligence Service said in a closed-door briefing with South Korean lawmakers on Wednesday. Yoo Sang-bum, a member of the ruling People’s Power Party who is on the parliamentary intelligence committee, told reporters.
North Korea has also sent advisers to Russia on the use of the munitions, which would be enough for about two months of bombing, Yoo said, citing intelligence services.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made a rare trip to North Korea at the end of July to take part in celebrations marking the end of fighting in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. The Russian leader showed him around the country’s latest weapons . Kim Jong Un. Shortly after, Russia sent a VIP military plane to Pyongyang, stoking concerns that Pyongyang was about to embark on a major arms transfer with Russia.
Pyongyang has some of the world’s largest stockpiles of artillery shells and rockets, interoperable with Soviet-era weapons fielded by Russia for use in Ukraine. The Kremlin’s war machine has exhausted its stocks and scrambled to stock up on supplies as the war now enters its second year.
Cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow has intensified as the two countries have been pushed into global isolation, with a summit between Kim and Putin held in Russia in September. The White House said in October that the Kim regime had provided 1,000 containers of military equipment and ammunition.
Munitions sales could bring hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars to cash-starved Kim’s coffers, giving his sanctions-hit economy hard currency to engage in global trade.
Putin pledged to help Kim put a spy satellite in orbit when the two met at a Russian space center for their summit. South Korea’s intelligence agency said North Korea received technical assistance from Russia that could help it achieve its goal of placing objects in space after failing twice this year to deploy a spy satellite.
North Korea appears to be in the final stages of another satellite launch attempt, the NIS said. The United States and its partners have warned that technology from North Korea’s space program could be used to advance its ballistic missiles, and warned that any aid Putin offers Kim would violate measures Russia voted to approve .