North Korea

N Korea has shipped 1 million shells to Russia: S Korea intel


The shells are sufficient to sustain the Russian-Ukrainian conflict for over two months, said the spy agency.

N Korea has shipped 1 million shells to Russia: S Korea intel

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in the Amur Oblast of the Far East Region, Russia, September 13, 2023 in this image released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea has sent more than one million artillery shells to Russia since early August, and is also likely helping Pyongyang with technology for its next attempted satellite launch, South Korea’s spy agency said Wednesday.

South Korea’s lawmaker Yoo Sang-beom told reporters about the assessment by the nation’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), following a briefing by the spy agency in parliament.

The suggestions of increased cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow follow a high-profile meeting of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Russia last month.

The two leadersmet at the symbol of Russian space prowess in Russia’s Far East, and vowed to form an “anti-imperialist united front.” Pyongyang often refers to the U.S. and its allies as “imperialists.”  

“The National Intelligence Service assesses that North Korea has engaged in the transportation of artillery shells and other weaponry on approximately 10 occasions since early August, utilizing Russian ships and transport planes in support of Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict,” Yoo told reporters.

These artillery shells were transported by sea, originating from the port of Najin and reaching the Russian ports of Dunai and Vostochny. From there, they were conveyed by train to Ukraine, near the Toretsk ammunition depot, Yoo said the NIS told lawmakers, adding that it is suspected that North Korea may have also employed air transport for weapons transfer.

“The NIS estimates that this method of transfer involved more than 1 million shells, a quantity the agency analyzes as sufficient to sustain the Russian-Ukrainian conflict for over two months,” Yoo said.

In return, the North is most likely to have received technology transfer from Russia.

“There is an indication that technical expertise has been sought from Russia, a factor that may enhance the likelihood of a successful launch (of North Korea’s satellite),” Yoo said.

The next launch of the North’s “satellite,” initially planned for October, has “experienced a delay,” the lawmaker said. “But currently, it is in the final stages of preparation, which involve thorough inspections of the engine and launch vehicle.” Yoo did not provide further details on when a launch might happen.

North Korea attempted and failed to launch satellites into space in May and August – a very public embarrassment to its leader Kim.

Support for Palestine

Yoo also told reporters that Kim has instructed his officials to investigate “comprehensive ways” to support Palestine in the Israel-Hamas war. 

“Kim Jong-un recently directed efforts to explore comprehensive support for Palestine,” said Yoo, without providing further details on how the NIS had obtained this intelligence.

“The NIS assesses that North Korea is aiming for multiple ways to capitalize on the Israel-Hamas war,” Yoo continued, adding that it may provide additional weapons to help Hamas in the future.

“North Korea’s previous export of anti-tank shells to Hamas and Hezbollah raises the possibility that it may be attempting to sell weapons to militant groups in the region and other third parties.”

Last week, the Israeli military confirmed that Hamas has used weapons sourced from North Korea and Iran to target Israel.

Last month, RFA reported on the potential use of North Korean weapons by Hamas militants, based on analysis of a video that displayed a man holding what seemed to be a North Korean-made rocket launcher.

Pyongyang has described the current conflict in the Middle East as a “tragedy created entirely by the United States.”

North Korea’s official Korea Central News Agency also claimed last week that Washington “has turned a blind eye to Israel, its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, continuous armed assaults, civilian casualties, and the expansion of Jewish settlements.” 

Edited by Taejun Kang and Mat Pennington.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *