North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a tour of his country’s intercontinental ballistic missiles and other advanced weapons.
Russia and China both sent delegations to North Korea this week, the first visits from foreign officials since the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. A Russian foreign minister has not visited since the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The delegations’ arrival also coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Korean War armistice agreement – known in North Korea as “Victory Day.”
Photos of Kim and Shoigu walking through an exhibition of missiles were released by a North Korean media outlet on July 26.
“The pictures seemed to highlight Pyongyang’s new drones — one possibly modeled after the U.S. Global Hawk reconnaissance drone,” reports CBS News. “The exhibit also featured a Hwasong 17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and a more advanced Hwasong 18, which is powered by solid fuel and thus more easily deployed. Both missiles have been test-launched by North Korea this year.”
According to Sky News, analysts believe the tour indicated that Russia has accepted North Korea’s nuclear program.
The United Nations Security Council, with support from Russia and China, banned nuclear-capable missiles. North Korea has repeatedly tested ballistic missiles in 2022 and 2023, prompting concerns among South Korean and Japanese officials.
Kim was reportedly given a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Strong support from the DPRK for the special military operation in Ukraine, (and) solidarity with Russia on key international issues further [emphasizes] our common interest and determination to oppose the policy of the collective West, which prevents the establishment of a truly multipolar, just world order,” said the letter, per Reuters.
North Korean defense minister Kang Sun Nam was also quoted on state media saying he fully supports the Kremlin’s “battle for justice.”
The United States has promised to provide full military support to Japan and South Korea, calling the repeated missile tests “deeply irresponsible, dangerous, and destabilizing.”
A second American nuclear-armed submarine arrived in South Korea on July 24, one week after the USS Kentucky docked at Port Busan. The USS Annapolis will resupply while on a “broader operations mission,” but may also “conduct joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea,” per The Hill.
Pyongyang warned the U.S. on July 20 that any perceived nuclear aggression could evoke a nuclear response. North Korea held two missile tests after the Kentucky docked.
Kang Sun Nam, North Korea’s defense minister, said in a statement that the “military security situation in the area of the Korean peninsula” had “undergone a fundamental change due to the reckless military moves of the U.S. and its followers.”
“I remind the U.S. military of the fact that the ever-increasing visibility of the deployment of the strategic nuclear submarine and other strategic assets may fall under the conditions of the use of nuclear weapons specified in the [North Korean] law on the nuclear force policy,” said Kang.