North Korea could be mulling arms exports to Russia - Seoul

North Korea could be mulling arms exports to Russia - Seoul

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s recent visit to major weapons factories last week had "multiple" purposes, including a response to a scheduled military exercise between Seoul and Washington, and an intention for arms exports, including to Russia.

That’s according to Yonhap citing South Korea's unification ministry as saying, Ukrinform reports.

North Korea’s leader inspected key weapons factories, including those producing shells for large-caliber multiple rocket launchers and engines for strategic cruise missiles, from Thursday to Saturday.

"(Kim's latest inspections) appear to have had multiple purposes -- show off the country's achievements in the defense sector, respond to Seoul-Washington's joint military drills and seek arms exports," Koo Byoung-sam, spokesperson at the ministry, told a regular press briefing.

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During the tour, the North's leader used the expression of "the national defense economic work" for the first time. Experts said Pyongyang may seek to raise foreign currency earnings and bolster its moribund economy through its defense industry.

"It seems very unprecedented that the North used such an expression. If this means arms exports, it is deplorable that the North has publicly stated it will violate United Nations Security Council resolutions (banning its nuclear and weapons programs)," Koo said.

The publication notes that Kim’s "field guidance" came as South Korea and the United States plan to hold their annual summertime Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise later this month. It also came amid speculation that North Korea may seek arms exports to Russia for use in Moscow's war with Kyiv.

North Korea appears to be bolstering its military cooperation with Russia. Kim was joined by Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and a senior Chinese official during a military parade held July 27. He also gave Shoigu a tour of an arms exhibition in Pyongyang, including new attack and spy drones and ICBMs.

As Ukrinform reported earlier, North Korea’s Kim ordered his defense industry to boost arms production in an ongoing effort to upgrade the country’s defense capabilities.

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