North Korea June 2023-

Written by  //  February 5, 2024  //  North Korea, Russia  //  Comments Off on North Korea June 2023-

How Russia, North Korea, and Iran will sow chaos in 2024
(GZERO media) Russia, North Korea, and Iran are the world’s most powerful rogue states. They have been working to strengthen their cooperation since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, united by the draconian sanctions levied against them, their shared hatred of the US, and their willingness to violate international law to disrupt a global status quo they believe serves Western interests at their expense.
In 2024, coordination among these rogue states will increase. Deepening alignment and mutual support will pose a growing threat to geopolitical stability as they boost one another’s capabilities and act in increasingly disruptive ways on the global stage.

5 February
Is North Korea Preparing For War With South Korea?
A uniquely disturbing policy shift from Kim Jong Un
Mark Leon Goldberg
(Global dispatches) Over the last few weeks there has been a decided change of tone and tenor from North Korea. On January 15, Kim Jong Un formally declared South Korea to be “an enemy state.” This is significant for the fact that since the end of the Korean War, the line from Pyongyang was more or less that South Korea was like a wayward relative and would ultimately be reunified with the North. But now, according to Kim and changes he’s enacting to the North Korean constitution, the state of South Korea is Enemy Number One.
This move comes on the heels of several geopolitical trends that suggest to some longtime North Korea watchers that Kim is readying for war.
… Sue Mi Terry, a former CIA analyst, long time North Korea expert and producer of the new documentary about North Korea called Beyond Utopia:  “He actually went against his father and grandfather’s policy, which is a very concerning development because his grandfather is a godlike figure in North Korea. He said that reunification with South Korea is an impossible thing, that he’s no longer going to pursue a unification policy and that the two Koreas no longer have any kind of kinship. Rather they are two separate states — belligerent states that are in the middle of war. So Kim Jong Un renounced the unification policy and then declared that South Korea is now considered the most hostile country in the world — and that war is inevitable. So while we are used to all kinds of rhetoric coming out of North Korea — turning Seoul into sea of fire and all that —this is still an unusual development. You’ve got a lot of Korea watchers concerned about this. And we’re all debating what this means.”
South Koreans stay calm as they see showmanship in the North’s escalating threats
North Korea has mastered a cycle of raising tensions with weapons demonstrations and threats before eventually offering negotiations aimed at extracting concessions. The result is that many South Koreans believe North Korea is using its old playbook to get attention during an election year in South Korea and the United States.
There’s widespread doubt that North Korea, an autocracy that values the survival of the Kim dynasty over anything else, would risk war with U.S.-backed South Korea. Washington has warned repeatedly that the North’s use of nuclear weapons would result in the end of Kim’s rule.

24-26 January
North Korea’s military threats are getting serious
(Politico Nightly) North Korea’s recent bump in military activity, a fairly common intimidation tactic, has often led to false alarms regarding its intentions. Its latest initiatives, however, warrant close attention.
In the past two weeks, North Korea has made several alarming moves: It has warned of a possible war with South Korea, newly rejected its decades-long ideology of unification with the South and cozied up with Russia by supplying missiles for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. Although the so-called Hermit Kingdom has often used threatening rhetoric and aggression as a means to make demands on the world stage, veteran Korea watchers say these events feel a bit different. And to the alarm of both Washington and Seoul, Robert L. Carlin and Sigfried S. Hecker, both veteran North Korea analysts who have participated in U.S.-North Korea negotiations, published an article earlier this month titled, “Is Kim Jong Un Preparing for War?” — a prospect that would spell disaster for crucial allies to the U.S.
As North Korea’s threat grows, ignoring it is not working
(WaPo editorial board) The United States and its allies are in the worst situation yet in the long and unsuccessful attempt to curb North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons and advanced missiles. Successive U.S. presidents tried isolation and sanctions, inducements and incentives. Nothing worked, and now North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is cozying up to a new benefactor, President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
This is bad news for the multitude of U.S. and U.N. Security Council sanctions intended to restrict North Korea’s exports and imports, limit its financial dealings and root out its illicit cyber and crypto activities. Mr. Putin cares little for the West’s sanctions and is desperate to acquire ammunition and missiles from Mr. Kim’s stockpile. The White House announced earlier this month that North Korea was already sending medium-range ballistic missiles to Russia for use against Ukraine. Mr. Kim also reportedly shipped more than 1 million artillery shells to Russia.
It is not known precisely how Mr. Putin will reward North Korea for this, but he could send desperately needed supplies such as oil, or Russia’s sophisticated weapons technology.

2023

19 October
Russian foreign minister thanks North Korea for ‘unwavering’ support in Ukraine war
(ABC) [Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday, flying from Beijing where he had been participating in the Belt and Road Initiative forum alongside President Vladimir Putin and other heads of state from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
On Thursday, Lavrov was received by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, with Russian News Agency TASS reporting the meeting lasted over an hour. No further details were published.
Lavrov has hailed deepening relations between Russia and North Korea during his two-day diplomatic trip to Pyongyang in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations. The trip was expected to focus on boosting defense ties between the two countries. Lavrov proposed regular security talks with North Korea and China to deal with what he called increased US-led regional military threats. Washington said last week that Pyongyang had transferred munitions to Russia to boost Moscow’s fighting capabilities in Ukraine.

8 October
A surge in rail traffic on North Korea-Russia border suggests arms supply to Russia, think tank says
(AP) … Speculation about a possible North Korean plan to refill Russia’s munition stores drained in its protracted war with Ukraine flared last month, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin and visit key military sites. Foreign officials suspect Kim is seeking sophisticated Russian weapons technologies in return for the munition to boost his nuclear program.

20 September
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un returns after historic Russia trip
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has returned to the capital city of Pyongyang, state media said on Wednesday, receiving an “ardent” welcome home after wrapping up a week-long Russia tour.
Kim’s tour of Russia’s far east included a summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, which has fanned Western fears that isolated, nuclear-armed Pyongyang could provide Moscow with weapons for its drawn-out invasion of Ukraine.

11-17 September
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un receives drones as gifts as Russia trip ends
North Korean leader on his way back home after trip to Russia.
Kim Jong Un’s support for Russia sparks warnings from the West
Kim Jong Un’s ‘Moving Fortress’ North Korea train: What to know
Vladimir Putin accepts Kim Jong Un invitation to North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has received five explosive drones, a reconnaissance drone and a bulletproof vest as gifts from a regional governor on his visit to Russia.
As Kim Inspects Russia’s Military, Putin Cultivates ‘Axis of the Sanctioned’
Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, toured a fighter jet factory, as Russia’s president sought to cast himself as the champion of an anti-U.S. alliance in a meeting with another authoritarian.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, peeked his head into the cockpit of a fighter jet at a factory in the Russian Far East on Friday as he pressed ahead on a multiday tour of Russia that is enticing him at each stop with off-limits military technology.
Although Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, hasn’t promised Mr. Kim any of the weaponry and has vowed to abide by U.N. sanctions banning their transfer, the tour carried an implicit threat — an example of what analysts say is a growing danger posed by Mr. Putin’s increasingly warm relationship with authoritarian leaders who can pose problems for the West.
At the same time, according to U.S. officials, Mr. Putin is cultivating new sources of arms and munitions for his war against Ukraine.

With Russia isolated on the world stage, Putin turns to old friend North Korea for help
(AP) After the handshakes, the platitudes and the lunch of Kamchatka crab dumplings, the outcome of the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stayed hidden.
But the summit’s location — Russia’s Far East spaceport — offered a big clue.
By choosing the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Putin has signaled his readiness to share Russian rocket and space technology with Pyongyang in exchange for access to North Korea’s mammoth arms stockpiles for the war in Ukraine.
… North Korea has relied on Soviet-designed weapons since the 1950-53 Korean War and has some of the world’s largest ammunition stockpiles, estimated at tens of millions of artillery shells and rockets.
Russia is eager to tap that trove after having spent a significant share of its arsenal in fighting Europe’s largest ground conflict since World War II, with thousands of shells fired daily by each side.
Western officials saw the summit with North Korea as an effort by Putin to secure a potential arms bonanza for his military.
The dangers posed by a deal between Russia and North Korea
It would make life harder for Ukraine—and heighten nuclear risks in Asia
(The Economist) IT WAS LIKE a scene from the cold war. Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, stepped off his luxurious bulletproof train this week having crossed into Russia’s Far East, to be greeted by a military brass brand and whisked off to meet Vladimir Putin. Over a meal of duck salad and crab dumplings, washed down with Russian wines, the two dictators toasted what Mr Kim called the “sacred fight” against Western imperialism.
Both men are throwbacks. Mr Kim is the grandson of a tyrant imposed on North Korea by Stalin. Mr Putin waxes nostalgic about Russia’s imperial past. Yet the threat they pose today is clear and present. An alliance between them could alter the course of the war in Ukraine by providing Russia with a new supply of weapons, and escalate a nuclear-arms race in Asia.

)Putin and Kim put on a show as worries mount over what Russia might promise North Korea
Briar Stewart
Location of leaders’ meeting at Russian cosmodrome seen as symbolic
(CBC) When Russian President Vladimir Putin toured North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his entourage around the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s far east Amur region on Wednesday, it was a deliberate display of mutual support between two countries that are increasingly isolated and united in their hostility toward the West.
The fact that the meeting took place at Russia’s newest aerospace site was symbolic, and Putin made it even clearer just how his country could help North Korea’s military and space ambitions.
The Kim-Putin meeting signals a potential new era in relations between Moscow and Pyongyang.
(NYT) They gazed into the workings of a Russian rocket launchpad. They tucked into crab dumplings, sturgeon and entrecôte. And they lifted their glasses at a flower-lined table in the conference room of a remote Russian spaceport, toasting the Kremlin’s “sacred struggle” against Western adversaries whom they branded a “band of evil.”
The summit between President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, which took place Wednesday at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in far eastern Russia, signaled a potential new era in relations between Moscow and Pyongyang, as two isolated leaders on wartime footing embraced each other in a moment of need.
Kim Jong Un in Russia amid US warnings not to sell arms
By Josh Smith and Hyonhee Shin
North Korea’s Kim accompanied by top defence industry officials
Putin plans to visit Russian space launch station in Far East
Kim’s destination remains uncertain
Russia brushes off warnings not to deal arms with North Korea
(Reuters) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has arrived in Russia by private train to meet with President Vladimir Putin for talks. Kim is joined by his top military officials. The US has warned against the countries trading weapons amid concerns that a potential arms deal would fuel Moscow’s war in Ukraine. It’s a rare meeting, as the North Korean leader has not traveled abroad frequently, making only seven trips in his 12 years in power. Discussions between the two leaders could cover humanitarian aid to North Korea, as well as UN Security Council resolutions imposed against Pyongyang.
Can North Korea’s ammunition offer Russia support in Ukraine war?
By Josh Smith
(Reuters) – If North Korea provides artillery rounds and other weapons to Russia for the war in Ukraine, it could help Kremlin forces stretch their dwindling stocks of ammunition but would be unlikely to change the course of the conflict, military analysts say.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is headed for Russia, setting the stage for a meeting with Putin
(AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has departed for Russia, where he is expected to hold a rare meeting with President Vladimir Putin that has sparked Western concerns about a potential arms deal for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
North Korea’s official news agency said Tuesday that Kim boarded his personal train from the capital, Pyongyang, on Sunday afternoon, and that he was accompanied by unspecified members of the country’s ruling party, government and military.
State media showed photographs of Kim walking past honor guards and crowds of civilians holding the national flag and flowers, and also of him waving from his green-and-yellow armored train before it left the station.
Inside Kim Jong Un’s luxurious — and slow — armored train
(WaPo) U.S. officials have said that Kim is likely to meet Putin in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, a little over 300 miles from the North Korean border, where they are expected to discuss arms shipments that could aid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
A 2009 article from the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, citing intelligence reports, said the train has a total of 90 rail cars. Some may be designed to carry vehicles: Georgy Toloraya, another Russian diplomat who traveled with Kim Jong Il in 2001, later wrote that two armored Mercedes cars were carried on that trip.
As a comparison, the standard Amtrak Acela train has nine cars. However, the U.S. train travels much faster, at a top speed of up to 150 mph. Kim’s train has a reported top speed of 55 mph.
The train causes widespread disruption when it travels, often due to security concerns. The Chosun Ilbo reported that around 100 security agents are sent ahead to stations to sweep them for potential threats, while the power is turned off at stations to prevent other trains from moving. There is also a large logistical support group that includes Soviet-made Il-76 air force transport planes and Mi-17 helicopters, the newspaper reported in 2009.

7 September
Why a Brewing Alliance Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un Makes Me So Nervous
Mark Goldberg
A Russia-North Korea arms deal is in the works. This is really bad!
(Global Dispatches) Citing US government intelligence reports, the New York Times revealed this week that Kim Jong Un is planning to visit Vladivostok, the Pacific coast city in far eastern Russia that is just an armored train ride away from Pyongyang. Kim and Putin are to meet on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum, which kicks off on Sunday. On the agenda: securing a deal in which North Korea would send munitions to Russia in exchange for missile technology and food aid.
The two leaders have met before—in 2019. But the context and circumstances of this meeting portend a much deeper alliance between Moscow and Pyongyang.
In July, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea to meet with Kim. Moscow was apparently searching for an ally — and access to North Korea’s vast stockpiles of munitions compatible with Russian artillery systems used in Ukraine.

5-6 September
(GZERO media) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may travel to Russia for a summit with President Vladimir Putin, a US official said, in a trip that would underscore deepening cooperation as the two isolated leaders are locked in separate confrontations with the US. US officials also said that Russia is seeking to buy ammunition from North Korea to refill reserves drained by its war in Ukraine. In return, experts said, North Korea will likely want food and energy shipments and transfers of sophisticated weapons technologies. A meeting with Putin would be Kim’s first summit with a foreign leader since North Korea closed its borders in January 2020. They met for the first time in April 2019, two months after Kim’s high-stakes nuclear diplomacy with then-US President Donald Trump collapsed.
Kim Jong-un to meet Putin in Russia for talks on supplying weapons
North Korean and Russian leaders expected to discuss military cooperation in Vladivostok
Kim Jong-un will reportedly travel to Russia this month to meet Vladimir Putin and discuss the possibility of supplying weapons to the Kremlin for the war in Ukraine.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said details of the expected meeting were still unclear, but added that it was likely to take place in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, given its proximity to North Korea. … Kim, who rarely leaves the capital Pyongyang, is expected to travel to Russia’s Pacific coast by armoured train.
The US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, warned that supplying weapons to Russia “is not going to reflect well on North Korea and they will pay a price for this in the international community”.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday it had “nothing to say” about the claims.

5 September
North Korean hackers have allegedly stolen hundreds of millions in crypto to fund nuclear programs
(CNBC) North Korea-linked hackers have stolen hundreds of millions of crypto to fund the regime’s nuclear weapons programs, research shows.
North Korea-linked hackers stole $200 million worth of crypto from January to Aug. 18, accounting for over 20% of all stolen crypto this year, according to a recent report by TRM Labs.
“Most experts agree the North Korean government is using these stolen assets to fund its nuclear weapons programs,” according to blockchain analytics company Chainalysis.
North Korea is under several U.N. sanctions, aimed at limiting the regime’s access to sources of funding it needs to support its nuclear activities.
“In recent years, there has been a marked rise in the size and scale of cyber attacks against cryptocurrency-related businesses by North Korea. This has coincided with an apparent acceleration in the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” said TRM Labs in a June discussion with North Korea experts.
In that discussion, TRM Labs said there has been a pivot away from North Korea’s “traditional revenue-generating activities” — an indication that the regime may be “increasingly turning to cyber attacks to fund its weapons proliferation activity.”

24 August
North Korea fails in second attempt to launch spy satellite as rocket crashes into sea
Pyongyang’s aerospace administration says failure ‘is not a big issue’ and promises third attempt in October
North Korea’s second attempt to place a spy satellite in orbit has failed after the rocket booster experienced a problem during its third stage, state media reported, as space authorities vowed to try again in October.
The first attempt in May also ended in failure when the new Chollima-1 rocket crashed into the sea.
Thursday’s pre-dawn launch came in the first hours of an eight-day window that North Korea had given for the attempt.

18 August
US ‘concerned’ over reports of Russia-North Korea nuclear cooperation
National security adviser Jake Sullivan makes comments as US, Japan and South Korea agree to new security pledge
The United States is “concerned” about the national security implications of North Korea and Russia reportedly cooperating on nuclear missile technology, the Biden administration said, as the US welcomed the leaders of Japan and South Korea to Camp David on Friday for an unprecedented trilateral summit.
… At a press conference earlier, the US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, was asked about a report from the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies that the latest inter-continental ballistic missiles that North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has been showing off may rely on Russian nuclear technology.
He added that “in terms of that specific report” about Russian missile technology and North Koran missiles, the Biden administration was relying on the US intelligence community.

12 June
Kim Jong-un ‘holds hands’ with Vladimir Putin as Russia-North Korea ties deepen
In a message to mark Russia’s national day, Kim pledged his regime’s ‘full support’ to Moscow
In a message to Putin to mark Russia’s national day on Monday, the North Korean ruler pledged his regime’s “full support” for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the official KCNA news agency said.
“Justice is sure to win, and the Russian people will continue to add glory to the history of victory,” Kim said in an English translation of the message.
Pyongyang has been accused of providing weapons to Russia, while it continues to develop its own arsenal of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons despite years of sanctions imposed by the UN security council, of which Russia is a permanent member.

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