Cooperation between North Korea and Russia in the military realm has the potential to pose a threat to international security.
Analysts predict that the recent military alliance between North Korea and Russia in 2023 may pose a greater risk to global security in the future.
As the February 2022 invasion marks its second anniversary, Russia has sought assistance from North Korea to replenish its low supply of weapons.
Russia has proposed offering assistance in the development of desired weapons, such as a spy satellite, to North Korea in exchange.
On November 28, North Korea announced that a satellite they launched into orbit had captured images of important locations in the United States, such as the Norfolk Naval Station, Newport News shipyard, White House, and Pentagon.
According to South Korean legislators who were briefed by their intelligence agency in late November, assistance from Russia was instrumental in Pyongyang’s successful launch of a satellite. Previous attempts in May and August were unsuccessful.
Countries in the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan and Australia, as well as European nations like the U.K., France, and Ukraine, have expressed concerns over the satellite launch, citing it as a potential threat to their respective national security.
“During a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on November 23, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna expressed concern that Russian counterparts may be working in support of the North Korean regime. She stated that these actions are contributing to destabilizing activities in the region, going against resolutions set by the United Nations Security Council.”
Despite requests from Washington and Seoul, China has failed to use its influence to control North Korea’s aggressive actions, such as the satellite launch and arms trade with Russia. Additionally, China has refrained from condemning these actions.
The U.S. Embassy’s charge d’affaires and deputy chief of mission in Seoul, Robert Rapson, mentioned that Beijing does not perceive these advancements as a threat. He believes that Beijing sees them as advantageous for its stance and actions towards the U.S., South Korea, and Japan.
During a United Nations Security Council gathering on November 27, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield from the United States stated that the satellite launch by Pyongyang, which utilizes banned ballistic missile technology, is a deliberate attempt to enhance their nuclear weapons delivery capabilities.
According to Ken Gause, a specialist in adversary analytics at the Center for Naval Analyses, Moscow may be inclined to assist Pyongyang in improving their Hwasong-18 ICBMs.
On Monday, North Korea performed its fifth test of an intercontinental ballistic missile in 2021. According to North Korean news agency KCNA, the missile was the Hwasong-18 and it was launched on Tuesday. This was the third time that Pyongyang has tested this specific type of ICBM, with previous tests occurring in April and July.
Former White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction during the Obama administration, Gary Samore, stated that Pyongyang has a strong desire for modern fighter jets and air defense systems.
Samore stated that Pyongyang is seeking to modernize its outdated air defense capabilities in order to defend itself from the United States and South Korea’s superior air power.
The sale of weapons between North Korea and Russia appears to have strengthened after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s trip to Russia and meeting with President Vladimir Putin in September.
During the meeting on September 13 at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Amur region, Putin seemed to gesture in agreement, suggesting that Russia is open to assisting Kim in improving its satellite technology.
On September 16, Kim toured a fighter jet factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur and the following day, she visited the Knevichi Airbase and the Pacific Fleet in Vladivostok.
However, the White House reports that North Korea was already supplying Russia with artillery shells for its involvement in the Ukrainian conflict as early as 2022.
The White House published satellite images in January that revealed North Korea’s transportation of weapons to Russia via railcars in November of the previous year.
On October 13, the White House unveiled additional satellite photos revealing over 1,000 containers of military supplies and ammunition being transported out of North Korea’s Najin port.
According to Evans Revere, who served as the acting assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs under the George W. Bush administration, the arms agreements between Moscow and Pyongyang, which go against sanctions, are a significant issue.
He went on to say, “The main issue is the extent and severity of the violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.”