North Korea has exported over 1 million shells to Russia since early August, according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS).
The shells were provided to Russia in 10 separate shipments to support its war in Ukraine, the NIS understands.
Yoo Sang-bum, a member of the ruling party and of the parliamentary intelligence committee, told reporters on Wednesday that the NIS had briefed lawmakers, saying that “over 1 million shells have been exported, which could be used for more than two months in the war between Russia and Ukraine,” according to Yoo’s office.
North Korea is running its military factories “at maximum capacity to meet Russia’s demand for military supplies,” Yoo said.
The NIS also believes North Korea is in the final stages of preparing for a satellite launch and is currently conducting inspections on the engine and launch device.
“It seems that North Korea received technical guidance from Russia, increasing the chances of a successful launch. However, they still face challenges in terms of technology and funding. Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) re-entry and multiple warhead technologies have not yet been secured,” Yoo stated, quoting the NIS.
US officials have previously warned North Korea it will “pay a price” if it provides weapons to Moscow to use against Ukraine.
It is “not going to reflect well on North Korea and they will pay a price for this in the international community,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in September, ahead of a closely-watched summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un which saw Pyongyang endorse Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The US and its allies are also concerned about the technology North Korea is seeking from Russia in return for weaponry.
According to two US officials, Pyongyang is seeking technology that could advance its satellite and nuclear-powered submarine capabilities, which could significantly advance North Korea’s capabilities in areas the rogue regime has not fully developed.
As Russia’s war in Ukraine drags into its 21st month, Moscow is desperate for fresh rounds of ammunition. Both sides continue to exchange heavy fire on a daily basis, sapping ammunition supplies.
Despite the large amounts of ammunition expended on both sides, progress on the battlefield remains slow-moving into the winter months.
The current fighting is focused on Ukraine’s south and east.
Ukraine last month had “partial success” in Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region, according to Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesperson for Ukraine’s forces in the south. Though progress has been slow, Russian forces are suffering losses of manpower and equipment there, Shtupun said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last month said Ukraine was “slowly but surely” pushing Russia out of its land, but the shortage of weapons and ammunition poses difficulties.