S. Korean military detects signs of NK supplying ballistic missiles to Russia

The South Korean military on Thursday said it has detected indications that North Korea has delivered short-range ballistic missiles, in addition to artillery shells and rockets, to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The South Korean military disclosed that North Korea is suspected of supplying a variety of weapons and equipment to Russia by holding a closed-door briefing on arms trade and military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang, marking the first such instance since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in February 2022.

South Korea has identified signs of North Korea's supply of short-range ballistic missiles to Russia based on information "from various sources," one senior military official said on condition of anonymity when asked by The Korea Herald whether Seoul has evidence of such transfers.

North Korea appears to still be supplying Russia with SRBMs, according to the official.

"We are monitoring the potential transportation of short-range ballistic missiles by both train and aircraft, as this mode of transportation is deemed feasible," the official noted, adding, "We are closely watching the situation, and we are currently detecting emerging signs."

The official explained that North Korea would face logistical challenges in transporting SRBMs by ships due to the dimensions of the shipping containers bound for Russia, which are approximately 6 meters in length and 2.5 to 2.6 meters in width.

For comparison, the KN-23 SRBM can measure 7.5 meters in length, according to the database provided by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The South Korean military assesses that North Korea might seek to transport a trio of newly developed SRBMs to Russia. These missiles include the KN-23, the KN-24 and the "super-large caliber" multiple-rocket launcher known as the KN-25, which South Korea categorizes as a ballistic missile system.

The military additionally indicated that North Korea is presumed to have supplied 122-millimeter shells suitable for multiple rocket launchers, along with 152 mm artillery shells that are mutually compatible with both countries.

"It is estimated that around 2,000 containers have been dispatched to Russia through the Rajin Port to date," the official shared Seoul's assessment. The delivery is thought to have been initiated in August.

"Assuming these containers are loaded with 122 mm shells for multiple rocket launchers, the estimate exceeds 200,000 rounds. If these containers are loaded with 152 mm shells, the estimate surpasses 1 million rounds."

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