US imposes sanctions over transfer of North Korean missiles to Russia

Measures target three Russian entities, one individual. US State Department says missiles for use in Ukraine war.

The Hwasong-18 taking off
A test launch of a Hwasongpho-18 intercontinental ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea [File: KCNA/KNS via AFP]

The United States has imposed sanctions on three Russian entities and one individual allegedly involved in the transfer and testing of North Korea’s ballistic missiles for alleged use by Moscow in its war against Ukraine.

The move comes after Washington and its allies criticised the exchange of arms between North Korea and Russia. The US government denounced Russia’s acquisition of North Korean ballistic missiles and specified they were deployed against Ukraine on December 30 and January 2.

“The DPRK’s transfer of ballistic missiles to Russia supports Russia’s war of aggression, increases the suffering of the Ukrainian people, and undermines the global nonproliferation regime,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Thursday, using the official acronym for North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“We will not hesitate to take further actions,” he said.

Since the start of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, Moscow and Pyongyang have developed closer ties but have denied engaging in any arms deals.

In September, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s Far East. High-ranking Russian officials have undertaken multiple visits to Pyongyang.

Last week, the White House said Russia had used short-range ballistic missiles sourced from North Korea to conduct multiple strikes against Ukraine, citing newly declassified intelligence that was subsequently corroborated by a senior Ukrainian official.

North Korea has been under a United Nations arms embargo since it first tested a nuclear bomb in 2006.

UN Security Council resolutions, approved with Russian support, ban countries from trading weapons or other military equipment with North Korea.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies