U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that North Korea would "pay a price" if leader Kim Jong Un makes a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to supply weapons for Moscow's war on Ukraine. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Negotiations for a weapons sale by North Korea to Russia are "actively advancing," according to a top U.S. security official who warned that Pyongyang would "pay a price" if a deal goes through.
Lending military support to Moscow for its war against Ukraine "is not going to reflect well on North Korea, and they will pay a price for this in the international community," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at a press briefing on Tuesday in Washington.
Sullivan did not specify what consequences North Korea would face but noted that the isolated regime is already under targeted sanctions aimed at disrupting any efforts to supply weapons to Russia.
He added that the economic sanctions imposed by the West on Russia have proven successful in shrinking Moscow's capacity to produce munitions.
"We have continued to squeeze Russia's defense industrial base, and they are now going about looking to whatever source they can find for things like artillery ammunition," Sullivan said. "I think it says a lot that Russia is having to turn to a country like North Korea to seek to bolster its defense capacity in a war that [it] had expected would be over in a week."
The United States has previously accused North Korea of supplying weapons to the Russian military and the private mercenary Wagner Group, allegations the North publicly denied in November.
"We will continue to call on North Korea to abide by its public commitments not to supply weapons to Russia that will end up killing Ukrainians," Sullivan said.
U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adriene Watson said on Monday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may soon travel to Russia, where he anticipates "leader-level diplomatic engagement" with President Vladimir Putin to discuss an arms deal.
The New York Times first reported the possible trip on Monday, saying Kim would likely travel by armored train from Pyongyang to the Pacific port city of Vladivostok for a meeting that could take place next week.
Citing U.S. and allied officials, The Times reported Putin is seeking artillery shells and anti-tank missiles, while Kim wants advanced technology for satellites and nuclear submarines, as well as food aid.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday that he could not confirm any details of a visit by the North Korean leader.
"We have nothing to tell you on this topic," he said, according to Russian newspaper Izvestia.
The reports come in the wake of a July visit to Pyongyang by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, during which he toured a weapons expo and viewed a military parade.
Moscow and Pyongyang have drawn closer amid a growing geopolitical divide sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with Putin and Kim exchanging letters earlier this year vowing to deepen bilateral cooperation.
Russia, along with China, has repeatedly blocked U.S.-led efforts at the United Nations Security Council to take action against North Korea over a flurry of weapons tests, including its launch of a Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile in July.