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Kim's sister denies North Korea has supplied weapons to Russia

SEOUL, South Korea — (AP) — The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un again denied Friday that her country has exported any weapons to Russia, as she labeled outside speculation on North Korea-Russian arms dealings as "the most absurd paradox."

The U.S., South Korea and others have steadfastly accused North Korea of supplying artillery, missiles and other conventional weapons to Russia for its war in Ukraine in return for advanced military technologies and economic aid. Both North Korea and Russia have repeatedly dismissed that.

Foreign experts believe North Korea's recent series of artillery and short-range missile tests were meant to examine or advertise the weapons it was planning to sell to Russia.

Kim Yo Jong called outside assessments on the North Korean-Russian dealings “the most absurd paradox which is not worth making any evaluation or interpretation.”

“We have no intention to export our military technical capabilities to any country or open them to the public,” she said in a statement carried by state media.

She said North Korea’s recent weapons tests were purely performed as parts of the country’s five-year arms buildup plan launched in 2021. She added that the recently tested weapons are designed to attack Seoul, the South Korean capital.

“We don’t conceal the fact that such weapons will be used to prevent Seoul from inventing any idle thinking,” Kim Yo Jong said.

South Korea's Unification Ministry responded later Friday that it is fully ready to repel military threats by North Korea in step with its military alliance with the U.S. Deputy ministry spokesperson Kim Inae also said that “illegal” arms dealings between North Korea and Russia must be stopped immediately.

Any weapons trade with North Korea would be a violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions that Russia, a permanent U.N. Security Council member, previously endorsed.

In March, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik said North Korea had shipped about 7,000 containers filled with munitions and other military equipment to Russia since last year. In return, Shin said that North Korea had received more than 9,000 Russian containers likely filled with aid.

In January, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said North Korea-supplied missiles had been fired on Ukraine. At the time, Ukraine officials also said an investigation of the debris of a missile found in its northeastern Kharkiv region showed the weapon likely was from North Korea.

In May, the White House also said Russia was shipping refined petroleum to North Korea at levels that exceed U.N. Security Council limits.

The deepening North Korean-Russia ties come as both countries are locked in separate confrontations with the United States — North Korea over its advancing nuclear program and Russia over its protracted war in Ukraine.

Since 2022, North Korea has conducted a provocative run of missiles tests, prompting the U.S. to expand its military drills with South Korea and Japan. Foreign experts say North Korea likely thinks an enlarged weapons arsenal would boost its leverage in future diplomacy with the United States.

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