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North Korea Kim Jong Un Boosts Arms Production, Eyeing Weapons Sales to Moscow

Kim Jong Un's upcoming visit to Russia will focus on potential weapons sales, including ammunition and missiles, amid the Ukraine conflict.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently embarked on a whirlwind tour of munitions factories in an effort to oversee and encourage the production of various weapons. This includes intercontinental ballistic missile launchers and sniper rifles, with a specific focus on increasing arms exports to Russia amidst the ongoing Ukraine conflict.

These visits to North Korea's weapons manufacturing facilities were extensively covered in the country's state media. The factories visited produced rocket shells and drone engines, highlighting the country's push for the "modernization" of its arms industry. This initiative aims to take advantage of Russia's military involvement in Ukraine.

In light of these developments, Kim's upcoming visit to Russia, confirmed by a White House official, is of great significance. During this visit, he will meet with President Vladimir Putin to discuss potential weapons sales. The Financial Times has reported on this planned trip, which follows Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's visit to Pyongyang in July. During Shoigu's visit, Kim personally toured a weapons exhibition showcasing combat and surveillance drones, as well as the latest generation of North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Experts believe that Kim is actively seeking to promote North Korea's weapons industry on the international stage, demonstrating its capabilities to potential customers. Russia, in particular, has faced challenges in acquiring the necessary weapons for its involvement in Ukraine and is eager to procure more from North Korea. During their visit, Kim Jong Un, Sergei Shoigu, and Aleksey Krivoruchko, Russia's deputy defense minister responsible for military procurement, discussed potential collaboration.

Kim's expected trip to Vladivostok, a major port city in eastern Russia, holds historical significance as it would be his first departure from North Korea since 2019. Additionally, Russia has proposed joint naval drills with North Korea, possibly alongside China, to strengthen cooperation between the countries. This collaboration could enable North Korea to offer a range of weapons that could significantly impact the battlefield in Ukraine, including ammunition, multiple rocket launchers, and short-range ballistic missiles.

The United States has previously accused North Korea of supplying infantry rockets and missiles to the Russian private militia known as the Wagner Group. Kim Jong Un's visit to Russia can be seen as a message that North Korea is not only capable of producing these weapons but also willing to provide them to countries involved in conflicts.

As tensions continue to escalate in Ukraine, Kim's involvement in arms production and his diplomatic engagement with Russia add a new layer of complexity to the evolving global security landscape. This development highlights the need for heightened attention and strategic considerations in addressing these challenges.

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