The United States said North Korea was secretly supplying Russia with a “substantial” number of artillery shells for its assault on Ukraine, according to White House National Security spokesman John Kirby.
Kirby said in a video briefing that North Korea was seeking to conceal the shipments by routing them through countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Our sources are that North Korea is secretly supplying artillery shells and we will monitor to see if the shipments are received,” Kirby said, adding that Washington would discuss liability issues regarding the shipments with the UN.
“We have a doubt where they’re going to transport these shells,” Kirby said, declining to provide further details as the United States considers its options.
At a routine press briefing, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said sanctions, as in the case of arms transfers from Iran to Russia, were among the choice.
“Just as we use and will continue to use all means to resist Iran’s arms transfer to Russia, we will do the same when it comes to North Korea’s arms supply to Russia. Russia,” he said.
The United States imposed sanctions in September on an Iranian company suspected of organizing military flights to deliver Iranian drones to Russia, as well as three other companies involved in the development of Iranian drones.
Kirby said he was unlikely to influence the momentum or outcome of the war. However, he thinks they could still be deadly for Ukrainians.
“And that’s certainly not going to change our equations…or the calculation of so many of our allies and partners about what kinds of capabilities we will continue to provide Ukrainians,” he added.
He said North Korean supplies demonstrate not only Pyongyang’s willingness to support Russia, but also Moscow’s ammunition shortages caused by U.S. sanctions and export restrictions.
North Korea said in September it had never sent arms or ammunition to Russia and had no plans to do so while advising the US to ‘keep your mouth shut’ and to stop disseminating erroneous information which “tarnishes” the country’s image.