North Korea has started supplying a significant amount of munitions to Russia, which could potentially increase the threat to South Korea. The White House recently announced that Moscow has received over 1,000 containers of munitions from Pyongyang in the past month. New satellite photos suggest that this is just the beginning of a large-scale arms transfer that will empower Russia and provide North Korea with resources it hasn’t had in years.
This sale of munitions will provide much-needed funds to the cash-strapped regime in Pyongyang, which has historically used the proceeds from arms deliveries to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in violation of UN sanctions. The Royal United Services Institute, a UK-based think tank, states that North Korea’s agreements with Moscow will cause concern in Japan and South Korea, countries that are already dealing with Pyongyang’s provocations.
From September 7 to October 1, North Korea sent over 1,000 containers of arms and munitions to Russia by sea and rail. The vessels involved in this operation have a history of supplying Russian arms in violation of international sanctions. These containers were ultimately delivered to a Russian munitions depot located about 180 miles from the Ukrainian border, where Russia has launched a new offensive.
The duration and quantities of these deliveries remain uncertain. North Korea has spent decades preparing for a resumption of hostilities with South Korea, meaning it could potentially flood Ukraine with ammunition for small arms and artillery. The RUSI report suggests that North Korea’s supply of munitions to Moscow will have significant consequences for the war in Ukraine and may also lead to North Korea seeking advanced military technologies from Russia.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has long threatened the destruction of South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Experts are increasingly concerned that if the United States becomes involved in a major war over the Taiwan Strait, North Korea may seize the opportunity to launch a catastrophic war on South Korea. North Korea conducted war games in August that simulated a “scorched earth” strategy against South Korea, including multiple preemptive nuclear strikes and an occupation of the south.
These missile tests included the detonation of dummy warheads at a high altitude, suggesting that in a real war, the high-altitude detonation of a nuclear warhead could cause significant damage through both the initial blast and the related electromagnetic burst. South Korean and Japanese assessments indicate that the two tactical missiles traveled approximately 250 miles at a maximum altitude of 30 miles before landing in the waters between Korea and Japan.