WASHINGTON, Nov 2 (Reuters) – The United States has information indicating that North Korea is secretly supplying Russia with a “significant” number of artillery shells for its war in Ukraine, the carrier said on Wednesday. White House National Security spokesman John Kirby.
Kirby told a virtual briefing that North Korea was trying to mask shipments by routing them through countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Our indications are that the DPRK is supplying covertly and we will be monitoring to see if the shipments are being received,” Kirby said, adding that Washington would consult with the United Nations on liability issues regarding the shipments.
“We have an idea of where they’re going to transfer these shells to,” Kirby said, but declined to elaborate as the United States weighs its possible options.
At a regular press conference, US State Department spokesman Ned Price suggested sanctions were among the options, as in the case of Iran supplying arms to Russia .
“Just as we use all tools and will use all tools to counter Iran’s arms supply to Russia, we will do the same with regard to DPRK’s arms supplies to Russia,” he said. he declared.
“There are sanctions in effect. We will be looking at additional tools and authorities that we may be able to call upon to counter this activity,” he said.
The United States in September imposed sanctions on an Iranian company it accused of coordinating military flights to transport Iranian drones to Russia and on three other companies it said were involved in the production of Iranian drones.
Kirby said the amount of shelling was not insignificant, but was unlikely to change the momentum or outcome of the war. However, they could still be deadly for Ukrainians, he said.
“And that certainly won’t change our reckoning…or with so many of our allies and partners on the kinds of capabilities that we’re going to continue to provide to the Ukrainians,” he said.
Kirby said the North Korean shipments were a sign not only of Pyongyang’s willingness to support Russia, but also of Moscow’s ammunition shortages caused by US-led sanctions and export controls.
North Korea said in September it had never supplied arms or ammunition to Russia and had no plans to do so, while warning the United States to “keep your mouth shut. ” and to stop spreading rumors aimed at “tarnishing” the country’s image.
Referring to North Korean missile launches on Wednesday, Kirby said they posed no immediate threat to American personnel in the region, and added that the United States would ensure it had the capabilities there. to defend their allies.
North Korea fired at least 23 missiles into the sea on Wednesday, including one that landed less than 60 km (40 miles) from South Korea’s shores, which South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called a “territorial encroachment”.
It was the first time a ballistic missile had landed near southern waters since the division of the peninsula in 1945, and the most missiles fired from the north in a single day. South Korea issued rare air raid warnings and launched its own missiles in response.
Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Idrees Ali and Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Simon Lewis and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Mark Porter
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