Seoul, South Korea: South Korea on Thursday expressed “deep concern and regret” over a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin that was apparently focused on expanding military cooperation as the two isolated, nuclear-armed leaders align over their escalating confrontations with the United States.
Washington has warned that the summit on Wednesday between Kim and Putin could lead to a deal to supply ammunition for Moscow’s war in Ukraine. There’s widespread concern in Seoul that the North in return would receive advanced weapons technologies from Russia, including those related to military spy satellites, which would increase the threat posed by Kim’s military nuclear program.
“We express our deep concern and regret that despite repeated warnings from the international community, North Korea and Russia discussed military cooperation issues, including satellite development, during their summit,” said Lim Soo-suk, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
“Any science and technology cooperation that contributes to nuclear weapons and missile development, including satellite systems that involve ballistic missile technologies, runs against U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he said in a briefing.
Lim also pointed out that Kim’s delegation in Russia included several individuals sanctioned by the Security Council over involvement in illicit North Korean weapons development activities, including Korean People’s Army Marshal Ri Pyong Chol and Jo Chun Yong, a ruling party official who handles munitions policies. Lim said Moscow should realize there will be “very negative impacts” on its relations with Seoul if it proceeds with military cooperation with Pyongyang.
Seoul’s Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho, who handles affairs with North Korea, warned that potential arms transfers between Pyongyang and Moscow would only invite stronger responses from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, which have been stepping up their trilateral security cooperation to cope with regional threats.