1 of 4 | Kim Jong Un continued his visit to Russia on Friday after a summit earlier this week with President Vladimir Putin amid growing concerns an arms deal is in the works. Photo by KCNA/ UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The United States is trying to impede Russian attempts to acquire weapons for its war against Ukraine from North Korea, a senior defense official said Friday, as Kim Jong Un continued a visit to Russia amid reports of a potential arms deal.
"We've been working to expose these secret negotiations by sharing information with ... the media, and we've urged the DPRK to cease its negotiations with Russia and cease its support for Russia's illegal war in Ukraine," Sasha Baker, U.S. Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, said at a press conference in Seoul Friday.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.
"We've also sanctioned individuals and entities that are involved in negotiating and facilitating arms transfers between the DPRK and Russia," Baker said. "More broadly, you can expect to see us continue to try to identify and expose and counter Russian attempts to acquire military equipment to prosecute their illegal war in Ukraine not only from the DPRK but wherever we see it."
In August, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted three entities tied to arms deals between North Korea and Russia.
Baker and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins were in Seoul for discussions with their South Korean counterparts on American extended deterrence against the North Korean nuclear threat.
"We strongly condemn the escalation in DPRK-Russia defense and political cooperation and discussed today how to counter Russia's facilitation of the DPRK's unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs and DPRK assistance with Russia's illegal war effort in Ukraine," Jenkins told reporters.
Friday's meeting marked the fourth time the allies' Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group has met since it was re-established in September 2022 after a nearly five-year break.
The session came as Kim Jong Un continued his trip to Russia on Friday with a tour of an aircraft factory that produces Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets, according to the official Russian government Telegram channel.
Kim also watched a demonstration flight of an Su-35 plane during the stop at Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a city in Russia's Far East.
"We see potential for cooperation both in the field of aircraft manufacturing and in other industries," Russian Trade Minister Denis Manturov, who accompanied Kim on the tour, said. "This is especially important for achieving the tasks facing our countries to achieve technological sovereignty."
On Wednesday, the North Korean leader held a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Vostochny Cosmodrome, a remote Siberian rocket launch facility, where he vowed that he will "always be standing with Russia."
The White House repeated concerns this week over a "budding arms deal" between Pyongyang and Moscow, citing intelligence that Kim was planning to supply Putin with artillery to replenish Russia's dwindling stockpile as its war against Ukraine grinds on.
Kim, meanwhile, is reportedly seeking advanced technology for the North's space and missile programs.
"The leader of the DPRK shows great interest in rocket technology," Putin told local reporters at the Vostochny Cosmodrome on Wednesday. "They are also trying to develop space."
North Korea failed in its attempts to place a military spy satellite in orbit in May and August, and has vowed another launch in October.
Jenkins said Friday that the allies would take "appropriate actions" in response to the North's continued development of its nuclear and missile capabilities, including its efforts to place a space launch vehicle in orbit.
Kim is scheduled to continue on to the port city of Vladivostok, where he will inspect Russia's Pacific Fleet, Putin told Russian media after their summit.