[Photo by Yonhap]
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia on his train for a rare summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss a possible bilateral cooperation on arms deals at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome spaceport. Kim’s trip is his first to Russia in more than four years since April 2019.
When asked if Russia will help North Korea build satellites, Putin was quoted by Russian state media as saying, “That’s why we have come here, and we will talk about all issues without a rush.” Kim also vowed to stand with Russia in a fight against imperialism, saying the two countries will form a strategic partnership.
During the summit, Kim is reportedly negotiating a potential arms deal that would support Russia with conventional weapons such as cannonballs in exchange for cutting-edge defense technology, including surveillance satellites, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and nuclear submarines. Kim’s push for such sanctioned missile technology, however, is a clear and significant violation of the United Nation’s sanctions slapped on the communist country, which prohibits any arms deal with North Korea.
The South Korean government must now work with the international community to restrain the arms deal between Pyongyang and Moscow with swift punishments.
On his train to Russia, Kim was accompanied by top military officials, including Kim Myong-sik, commander of the Korean People‘s Navy. He visited the Soyuz-2 space rocket launch facility before the summit and is expected to visit fighter aircraft factories during his stay in Russia, a clear indicator that military technology was the reason for his visit to Russia.
If North Korea strikes an arms deal with Russia, it will pose an existential threat to the international order established in the post-Cold War era, such as the non-nuclear proliferation treaty, as well as the principles of the U.N. Security Council. Russia’s possible supply of missile and nuclear technology to North Korea will be nothing more than both an abandonment of the strategic cooperative partnership it has with South Korea and a declaration that Moscow is an enemy of the free world, which explains in part why the United States threatened additional sanctions if Pyongyang and Moscow strike an arms deal.
If North Korea and Russia successfully negotiate the deal, Seoul must respond promptly, including deploying nuclear submarines and military support to Ukraine. It will also be necessary for South Korea to persuade China to rein in North Korea, given that a closer relationship between the two regimes could also be problematic to Beijing.
All these developments indicate the enormous responsibilities facing the South Korean incoming Defense Minister Shin Won-sik, a representative of the People Power Party and former Command of the Capital Defense Command. He must thoroughly prepare for the global security dynamics and the threat of North Korean provocations.
By Editorial Team
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