Russia-North Korea deal and the new nuclear weapons plan: what we know

Elizabeth Smith

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un traveled to Russia this month to meet with President Vladimir Putin.

Apparently, the two leaders discussed the possibility of North Korea supplying weapons to Moscow to support its war in Ukraine. In return, the Kremlin could fund Kim’s nuclear plan.

Why the Russia-North Korea deal is a concern

Both Washington and Seoul are carefully analyzing what North Korea would gain from this agreement. Thus already knowing that increased military cooperation between the two countries in Asia could reshuffle the balance.

Another fear is that Russia may provide weapons to North Korea in the future. At a time when Pyongyang needs them most. Even more worrisome is the fact that Kim Jong Un might ask Putin to provide him with advanced weapons technology or knowledge to help him make progress on his nuclear weapons program.

Both Pyongyang and Moscow have previously denied that the North is providing Russia with weapons for use in the war in Ukraine.

But it is now a given that Russia now needs weapons as much as the starving and sanctioned North Korea needs money and food.

Read also: Kim Jong-un in Russia: what are the themes of the dialogues with Putin

However, doubt remains about the meeting

The North Korean leader, it must be said, does not leave North Korea often or lightly. He is paranoid about his safety and considers foreign travel fraught with danger.

For his latest international trips – to Hanoi to meet Donald Trump in February 2019 and to meet Putin in Vladivostok in April 2019 – he traveled on an armored train. The trip to Hanoi lasted two long days through China.

We do not know whether the intention of the two leaders was to keep this meeting of theirs, aimed precisely at a new collaboration, a secret.

However, it is possible that the United States, by making the news public, is trying to intimidate Kim (who would then no longer move incognito). And thus hinder both the meeting and the potential arms deal.

Already in the past, the U.S. strategy against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been to release intelligence information to try to prevent agreements from being made. North Korea and Russia have so far denied any intention of wanting to trade arms. Probably because neither probably wants this deal to become a public affair. In short, it cannot be ruled out that they are already doing it under the table.

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