Tripartite Outrage: South Korea, U.S. and Japan Condemn North Korea’s Alleged Arms Transfer to Russia



South Korea, Japan, and the United States strongly condemned North Korea’s alleged supply of arms and military equipment to Russia on October 26, 2023. The three countries issued a joint statement saying that they had confirmed several deliveries of such weapons and that these deliveries would significantly increase the human toll in Russia-Ukraine crisis. The statement also said that North Korea’s arms deliveries to Russia violated United Nations Security Council resolutions. North Korea is already under a number of sanctions for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and the United States has warned that it will impose additional sanctions if North Korea continues to supply arms to Russia. The condemnation from South Korea, Japan, and the United States is the latest sign of growing international concern about North Korea’s relationship with Russia. The two countries have been strengthening their military ties in recent months. The three countries called on the international community to work together to hold North Korea accountable for its arms deliveries to Russia and to prevent future such deliveries.

The Reaction of North Korea and Russia

North Korea has categorically rejected the allegations, calling them false and politically driven. The Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, on the other side, rejected claims that Washington has not provided sufficient evidence to support its accusation that Russia received weapons from North Korea. He added “North Korea is our neighbor and we continue and will continue to develop close relations in all areas.” When asked if there had been any weapon deliveries, he responded, “We don’t comment on this in any way.”

When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited North Korea on October 18, 2023, he expressed gratitude for North Korea’s unwavering support in the Ukraine issue during his remarks at the reception. Following his visit, Lavrov also rejected the American allegations regarding North Korea’s arms transfers, stating, “The U.S. keep accusing everyone.”


The United States and South Korea have increased their regular military drills and have resumed trilateral training with Japan. On October 22, 2023, the three countries conducted their first-ever trilateral aircraft exercise near the Korean Peninsula. At the same time, North Korea and Russia, both involved in separate disputes with the United States and its allies, are taking steps to strengthen their military ties in response to U.S. and its allies. This is leading to a competition where each side is actively investing in new weaponry and technologies in order to improve the size and capabilities of their forces, resulting in increased militarization of the region. This militarization can increase the risk of escalation and misinterpretation of the other side’s intentions, posing a severe threat to regional security and stability.



Ezba Walayat

Research Associate, Pakistan House

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