North Korea denied on Wednesday providing weapons to Russia, state media reported, weeks after the United States said Moscow was looking to Pyongyang to replenish stocks depleted by the Ukraine invasion.
“We have never exported weapons or munitions to Russia before and do not plan to export any of them,” an official from the Defense Ministry’s General Equipment Office said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The statement comes after the White House said earlier in September that Russia was buying artillery shells and missiles from communist North Korea for use in its war in Ukraine.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the United States believed the purchases “could include literally millions of cartridges, rockets and artillery shells.”
However, citing declassified US intelligence, he stressed at the time that the purchases had not yet been completed and there was no indication that these weapons had been used in Ukraine.
Moscow’s ally Pyongyang claimed in the statement that Washington and “other hostile forces are spreading rumors of arms smuggling” between North Korea and Russia.
“We warn the United States against making reckless statements,” the statement continued, stressing that North Korea reserves the right to export military equipment.
The White House said the purchase of artillery munitions from the isolated North Korean government, as well as an agreement to buy drones from Iran, showed Russia was in tatters after months of Western economic and technological sanctions aimed at crippling its war machine.