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North Korea may sell tactical guided missiles to Russia in addition to short-range ballistic missiles, Seoul says

South Korean defense chief suggests North Korea looking to sell additional new types of tactical guided missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine, on top of confirmed short-range missile transfers
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a munitions factory, in this undated photo released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 10 January 2024.

South Korea’s defense chief indicated that North Korea might not only be supplying short-range ballistic missiles to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine but could also potentially sell new types of tactical guided missiles to Moscow.

Any transfers of North Korea’s weapons to Russia violate multiple UN resolutions. Meanwhile, in recent months, Pyongyang became Russia’s largest supplier of artillery ammunition and also started to deliver ballistic missiles.

During an exclusive interview with Yonhap News Agency on 10 January, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik revealed that the weapons system, showcased by North Korean state media during Kim Jong-un’s recent visit to a munitions factory, appears to be close-range ballistic missiles (CRBMs). These missiles are believed to be capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons.

North Korea uses Ukraine “as test site for nuclear-capable missiles,” South Korea says at UN SC meeting

The defense ministry assessed the missiles displayed on mobile launchers by North Korea as CRBMs, characterized by their approximate five-meter length and a firing range of under 300 kilometers. Shin also suggested that Kim Jong-un’s recent visits to munitions factories might be connected to North Korea’s purported arms supply to Russia, highlighting the strengthening military cooperation between the two nations.

“North Korea said it will deploy (CRBMs) with front-line troops. Given the recent arms trade, (I think) North Korea could sell them to Russia,” Shin said, citing the North’s suspected sales of KN-23 short-range ballistic missiles to Russia.

Recently, declassified intelligence from the White House revealed that North Korea supplied Russia with ballistic missile launchers and several missiles with a 900 km range.

By the end of December, North Korea is estimated to have provided approximately 5,000 containers of weapons to Russia, potentially holding around 2.3 million rounds of 152 mm shells or about 400,000 rounds of 122 mm artillery shells, as per the Seoul defense chief.

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