U.S., South Korea, and Japan Reaffirm Defense Comitments Amid North Korea-Russia Pact

Three officials noted that the enhancement of the Russia-North Korea partnership during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Pyongyang on June 19 is of great concern

by Sededin Dedovic
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U.S., South Korea, and Japan Reaffirm Defense Comitments Amid North Korea-Russia Pact
© Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

It is stated that the U.S. commitments to the defense of South Korea and Japan remain strong, and Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo reaffirm that the path of dialogue remains open. The United States, South Korea, and Japan strongly condemn the deepening military cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow, including the continued transfer of weapons from North Korea to Russia, which prolongs the war in Ukraine, violates multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, and threatens stability in Northeast Asia and Europe, the State Department said, reported Al Jazeera.

The statement emphasizes that this is noted in a joint statement by officials from the three countries following their telephone conversation about recent developments in Russia-North Korea relations. The telephone conversation included Jung Pak, the U.S.

senior official for North Korea, Cho Koo-rae, South Korea’s deputy minister of foreign affairs for strategy and intelligence, and Namazu Hiroyuki, Japan’s assistant minister for Asian and Oceanian affairs.

‘Great Concern’

The three officials expressed great concern about the strengthening of the Russia-North Korea partnership during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Pyongyang on June 19, noting that it endangers the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and prolongs the suffering of the Ukrainian people defending their freedom and independence.

"The U.S., South Korea, and Japan reaffirm their intention to further strengthen diplomatic and security cooperation to counter the threats posed by North Korea to regional and global security and to prevent an escalation of the situation," the statement reads.

It is stated that U.S. commitments to the defense of South Korea and Japan remain strong, and that Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo reaffirm that the path of dialogue remains open and call on North Korea to cease provocations and return to negotiations.

The pact signed on Wednesday by Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un obliges both parties to immediately provide military assistance in the event of armed aggression against either of them.

Russian President Putin Meets North Korean Leader Kim © Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

Following this week's visit to North Korea, the Russian president suggested that supplying weapons from that country would be a response to the arming of Ukraine by Western countries.

Statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the possibility of Moscow supplying weapons to North Korea, following the signing of a defense pact with Pyongyang, are very concerning, said U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.

After this week's visit to North Korea, the Russian president suggested that supplying weapons from that country would be a response to Western countries arming Ukraine. He also warned that South Korea, a U.S. ally, would be making a "grave mistake" if it decided to send weapons to Ukraine.

In that case, Moscow's reaction would be "very painful" for Seoul, Putin added. "Such words are very concerning," Miller said at a press briefing, responding to questions about Putin's statements regarding potential weapons supplies to North Korea, according to Reuters.

"This would, of course, destabilize the Korean Peninsula and, depending on the type of weaponry, would also violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, which Russia has supported," he said. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said that although the mentioned pact is worrying, it is not surprising.

He sees Russia's need for such a partnership as a sign of desperation. "We have discussed this and warned about the increasing defense cooperation between these two states over the past few months through a series of intelligence information we have released," he said.

John Kirby© Roberto Schmidt / Getty Images

U.S. officials believe that North Korea is interested in acquiring fighter jets, missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment, and other advanced technologies from Russia.

The U.S. and Ukraine claim that North Korea has already supplied Russia with significant quantities of artillery shells and ballistic missiles, which Moscow and Pyongyang deny.

Nuclear Testing

Western countries have condemned Russia's veto on extending the mandate of the U.N.

body responsible for monitoring international sanctions against North Korea. The pact between Russia and North Korea could also be a concern for China, Kirby believes, which is why the U.S. is asking China to keep an eye on Pyongyang.

However, analysts point out that the mentioned pact could reduce Beijing's influence on its two neighbors, and any increased instability could negatively impact China's economic and strategic ambitions. "Russia could provide North Korea with advanced military capabilities that could be very destabilizing," said Evan Medeiros, an Asia expert in the Obama administration who now teaches at Georgetown University.

"Furthermore, this relationship with Russia could give North Korea enough confidence to resume nuclear testing," he noted. Kim Jong-un last oversaw a nuclear test in 2017, which was followed by sanctions supported by both China and the U.S.

But Washington warns that Pyongyang could resume testing at any time. Source: Al Jazeera / Reuters

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