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North Korea's Already Been a Reseller for "Neutral" China, Or Why we Should be Wary of Alliance with russia (Opinion)

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North Korea already used to supply Chinese weapons to third parties in the past / Illustrative render by Defense Express
North Korea already used to supply Chinese weapons to third parties in the past / Illustrative render by Defense Express

Pyongyang could not just supply its own weapons to the russian federation but also once again become a public-mask broker for such countries as China

Negotiations between North Korea and the russian federation are soon to result in a weapons supply agreement, or probably it has already been sealed. There is no other explanation as to why russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu had a lengthy business trip to Pyongyang but with the intent to inspect the offer.

Therefore the upcoming meeting of the two dictators, Putin and Kim Jong Un during the Eastern Economic Forum taking place in Vladivostok on September 10-13, might well be just a formal procedure to announce the agreement. But besides the risk of North Korea handing its military equipment stocks over to russia, there is another, more threatening factor looming.

Read more: Give and Take: the Purpose of Shoigu's Visit to North Korea, It's Not Just About Ammunition
Military drills in North Korea
Military drills in North Korea / Illustrative photo credit: AFP

There is a chance that the DPRK will only become a hub for transferring weapons to russia. There have been precedents already in history, and the actors, notably, were all the same.

During the iran-Iraq War in the1980s, North Korea became an intermediate who took all the risks and sold weapons from the USSR and China to iran. Soviet ammunition began flowing through Pyongyang almost right from the start of the war in 1980.

Then, Chinese equipment from DPRK arsenals followed – simultaneously with Soviet T-54, T-55, and T-62 tanks made by Korean industries under license. Soviet small arms and mortars were sold en masse, the Strela-2 man-portable air missile got to iran via North Korea.

According to available records, the same way iran obtained Chinese HY-2 Silkworm anti-ship missiles, copied from the USSR's P-15 Termit. North Korea also was involved in supplying over a hundred Chinese Shenyang J-6 fighters (copies of Soviet MiG-19).

Shenyang J-6 in North Korea
Shenyang J-6 in North Korea / Open source archive photo

Generally, by 1985, that is, three years before the war ended, the United States estimated the amount of Chinese arms exported to iran at USD 2.5 mln.

Of course, China denied having anything to do with those weapons. Moreover, it consistently reaffirmed its stance of neutrality toward the conflict. If some country was reselling Chinese defense products, Beijing said it could do nothing about it.

The story is repeating now, and we cannot help but see a historical parallel. Even China's continuous statements of neutrality in regard to the russian war of aggression against Ukraine (although never calling it a "war") are the same this time.

It calls for caution that history might repeat itself. Goes without saying that China's defense industry and weapon stocks are of a much greater magnitude than those available to North Korea.

Read more: ​Ukraine’s Spy Chief Says russia Has No Resources, Except for Human, to Continue War