North Korea denies US claims of supplying arms to Russia
Pyongyang, Nov 08: North Korea on Tuesday denied having any arms dealings with Russia, and said it had no plans to do so, reported state media KCNA.
The comments came after the US said Pyongyang appears to be supplying Russia with artillery shells for its war in Ukraine.
"We regard such moves of the US as part of its hostile attempt to tarnish the image of (North Korea) in the international arena," vice director at the ministry's military foreign affairs office said in a statement.
White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby said last week the United States has information that indicates North Korea is covertly supplying Russia with a "significant" number of artillery shells.
He also said North Korea was trying to obscure the shipments by funneling them through countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington was monitoring to see whether the shipments are received, he added.
Ties between North Korea and Russia
North Korea is one of the few countries to have expressed support for Russia's annexation of parts of Ukraine. Experts say North Korea is a good source of ammunition supply for Russia, because they keep a significant stock of shells.
In September, US intelligence said it had found out that Russia was planning to purchase millions of rockets and artillery shells from Pyongyang. North Korea dismissed the report, and condemned the US for making "reckless remarks," telling it to "keep its mouth shut."
"North Korea is clearly using the Ukraine war to tighten its relations with Russia," Victor Cha from the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Reuters news agency.
"To avoid any military altercations, US authorities could coordinate with willing countries to detain the cargo at customs to prevent their making it to the battlefield," he added.
A UN resolution bans North Korea from trading weapons with other countries. This year, a US-led attempt to impose tough sanctions on the isolated country over its series of ballistic missile tests was already vetoed by China and Russia.
In a separate statement, a North Korean diplomat called UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres a "mouthpiece" of the US for his condemnation of Pyongyang's missile launches.