Anchor: The United States has imposed sanctions against a Slovakian national accused of brokering a deal that would send North Korean munitions to Russia with food provisions going the other way. The U.S. says it will not hesitate to target the North or any other state that supports Russia's war against Ukraine.
Choi You Sun reports.
Report: The White House says that it has detected additional attempts by Russia to acquire munitions from North Korea in return for food following a delivery of infantry rockets and missiles late last year.
John Kirby, White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said during Thursday's press briefing that a Slovakian arms dealer identified as Ashot Mkrtychev has been attempting to broker a secret arms agreement between Moscow and Pyongyang.
[Sound bite: White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby]
"As a part of this proposed deal, Russia would receive over two dozen kinds of weapons, ammunitions from Pyongyang. We also understand that Russia is seeking to send a delegation to North Korea and that Russia is offering North Korea food in exchange for munitions. Any arms deal between North Korea and Russia would directly violate a series of UN Security Council resolutions."
Earlier, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that it has imposed sanctions on Mkrtychev for arranging the transfer of over two dozen types of weapons and munitions from the North between late 2022 and early 2023.
Pyongyang, in return, would be provided with commercial aircraft, raw materials, and commodities.
The U.S. State Department also took a firm stance on the deals, with deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel warning that action will be taken against any provision of support for the missile and nuclear development programs of North Korea, which he referred to as the DPRK.
[Sound bite: US Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel]
"We will not relent in targeting those who provide support to Russia's brutal war against Ukraine. And we will continue to take actions that deny the DPRK and other inputs that Pyongyang can utilize to further develop its weapons for mass destruction and ballistic missiles program."
The Treasury’s announcement of the latest sanctions cited Secretary Janet Yellen, who said Russian President Vladimir Putin has become increasingly desperate to replace over nine-thousand pieces of heavy military equipment lost in part due to global sanctions and export controls and has begun to turn to suppliers of last resort like Iran and North Korea.
She added that the U.S. remains committed to degrading Russia's military-industrial capabilities, and exposing and countering its attempts to evade sanctions and obtain military equipment from the North or any other state in support of its war in Ukraine.
Choi You Sun, KBS World Radio News.