Russia-North Korea Partnership: What Kind of Weapons Technology Is Moscow Sending to Pyongyang?

By Jace Dela Cruz

Mar 07, 2024 04:51 AM EST

North Korea has been reported to be providing munitions to Russia to sustain its war in Ukraine, and experts said Moscow has a range of military technologies that it could offer to Pyongyang in exchange for this weaponry. 

TOPSHOT - This pool image distributed by Sputnik agency shows Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shaking hands during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur region on September 13, 2023, ahead of planned talks that could lead to a weapons deal with Russian President.
(Photo : VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

North Korea Providing Munitions to Russia

Since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Russia to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin last September, Pyongyang has already delivered millions of artillery shells to Moscow, according to South Korea's Defense Minister Shin Won-sik. 

In a press briefing on February 26, the South Korean defense minister revealed that around 6,700 containers had been delivered by North Korea to Russia that could carry over 3 million 152 mm artillery shells or 500,000 rounds of 122 mm.

Shin noted that while North Korea's arms factories operate at 30% capacity due to shortages of raw materials and power, some facilities were operating at full capacity to produce weapons and shells specifically for Russia.

Shin said the military supplies were sent to support Russia in its war against Ukraine in exchange for food, more military technology, as well as raw materials and parts to manufacture weapons.

Last month, the Security Service of Ukraine said that ballistic missiles from North Korea have been injuring and killing civilians since December.

READ NEXT: North Korea's Kim Jong Un Receives Car From Russia's Vladimir Putin in Another Sign of Warming Ties Between the 2 Countries

What Kind of Weapons Technology Is Russia Sending to North Korea

Some analysts told Voice of America (VOA) that Russia's advanced missile technologies are on top of its offer list to North Korea in exchange for munitions. They said Moscow could provide technologies that would likely refine the nuclear and missile programs of Pyongyang.

The experts added that Russia could also provide technologies to boost North Korea's development of fighter jets, air defense capabilities, satellite cameras, submarines, and tanks.

David Maxwell, vice president of the Center for Asia Pacific Strategy, told VOA that Russia's transfer of guidance and reentry capabilities of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) would be the "most dangerous to the American homeland."

Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corporation, also told the outlet that Moscow's technology would allow Pyongyang to have greater explosive power in a small warhead.

According to Bennett, North Korea may have nuclear warheads yielding up to 10 kilotons but does not have advanced miniaturization technology that could pack hundreds of kilotons of explosive power, similar to a US Minuteman III ICBM. However, the analysts noted that regardless of what weapons technology Russia transfers, it would be challenging to detect them.

Bruce Bechtol, a former US Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence officer who is now a political science professor at Angelo University in Texas, told VOA that it could also be difficult to pinpoint if Russians in North Korea are military experts since they could travel under the guise of civilian visits now that Pyongyang has opened up its border to Russian tourists.

READ MORE: North Korea Junks All Economic Cooperation Deals With South Korea as Kim Jong Un Claims Legal Right to Destroy South

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