The Korea Herald


Seoul defense chief accuses Russia of using North Korean weapons in Ukraine attack

By Kim Arin

Published : June 1, 2024 - 13:22

    • Link copied

South Korean Minister of National Defense Shin Won-sik delivers his remarks at the plenary session of the International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday. (Yonhap) South Korean Minister of National Defense Shin Won-sik delivers his remarks at the plenary session of the International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday. (Yonhap)

SINGAPORE -- South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik said Saturday growing evidence pointed to Russia getting weapons from North Korea to attack Ukraine and aiding the Kim Jong-un regime’s military program.

“Today we see more evidence that the weapons used by Russia to attack Ukraine were illegally imported from North Korea,” the South Korean minister of national defense said in his remarks delivered at the plenary session of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Russia, despite being a permanent member of the United Nations Council, was “receiving weapons from a regime that violates numerous UNSC resolutions they themselves have led,” he said.

He said Russia using North Korean weapons in its war against Ukraine was “an unimaginable extreme self-contradiction and betrayal against the international community.” Engaging in such arms trade was also “a clear violation of the UNSC resolution, and must stop immediately,” he added.

He said that the military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, brought on by the war in Ukraine, was “not only escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula by advancing the nuclear and missile capabilities of North Korea, but also affecting the battlefield in Europe.”

“This means that the crisis on the Korean Peninsula is no longer a problem limited to the Korean Peninsula, but rather a problem for all of us,” he said.

He said that North Korea, in return for providing Russia with weapons, was getting money and technology to expand its military power.

“North Korea’s reckless development of (a) nuclear and missile program which can strike all countries represented here poses an existential threat for us.”

So far this year North Korea launched various types of missiles a dozen times as well as an attempted launch of a reconnaissance satellite.

In the last few days, North Korea flew more than 260 balloons carrying trash across to South Korea, which he said was “an unimaginably petty and low-grade behavior for a civilized nation.”

The minister asked the international community to join in the condemnation of North Korea increasing provocations.

“I take this opportunity to strongly condemn such an action and urge for its immediate cessation. ... All countries should condemn North Korea’s illegal actions in one voice and faithfully implement UN Security Council resolutions agreed upon by the international community.”

He blamed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his ambitions to continue dictatorial rule as the root cause of the country’s nuclear and missile programs and the human rights crisis its people are enduring.

In response to questions from the floor, the minister elaborated that North Korea and Russia are believed to have traded enough weapons and other goods to fill about 10,000 shipping containers.

“North Korea in particular is believed to have received satellite technology, especially military reconnaissance satellite technology,” he said. “If such exchange continues, North Korean military power is feared to expand and South Korea and the US are closely watching for that possibility.”

On a question asking him to evaluate China’s role in North Korea denuclearization efforts, he said he hoped Beijing would “step up to make more constructive and proactive efforts to stabilize and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.”

The cooperation between North Korea, Russia and China was also “deeply worrying,” he added.

He was asked about the barriers in South Korea for the country to supply Ukraine with weapons and possible ways to address them. He replied that the existing laws bar South Korea from exporting weapons to conflict zones, and that a consensus in the public as well as in the National Assembly must be reached before the laws could be changed.

He declined to respond to a question about the implications of former US President Donald Trump winning a second term in the White House for South Korea, saying it was “not appropriate as a minister of an ally country to comment.”