Group of Seven nations are expressing growing concern over intensifying cooperation between Russia and North Korea, as Pyongyang has reportedly received military technologies from Moscow in exchange for transferring missiles.

The strengthening of North Korea’s missile capabilities with support from Russia has raised concerns among foreign affairs experts, who are urging Japan – the only Asian member of the G7 – to take a leadership role in confronting the regional threat. .

In a bid to expand multinational efforts beyond the G7 in controlling this type of arms trade, Japan should involve China, a country with friendly ties with both Russia and North Korea, to address the situation, according to the experts.

Following a meeting between then-Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in July 2023, military cooperation between the two nations is believed to be advancing rapidly amid the country’s protracted invasion of Ukraine. Moscow, which began in February 2022.

In a statement issued at this year’s summit in Italy, the G7, made up of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as the European Union, condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the arms transfers from North Korea to Russia for violating UN Security Council resolutions.

Kim also visited the space launch center at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East in September 2023, accompanied by President Vladimir Putin, sparking speculation about the possibility of Moscow gifting aerospace technologies to Pyongyang.

In fact, about two months after Kim returned to Pyongyang, North Korea announced that it had successfully launched a reconnaissance satellite. The takeoff followed two failed attempts by Pyongyang early last year to launch such an object into orbit.

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Lately, expectations are high that Putin, who was sworn in for a new six-year term in May, will visit North Korea at an early date. If it happens, his trip to North Korea would be his first since July 2000, when Kim’s late father led the Asian country.

Moscow and Pyongyang have been trying to develop closer “win-win” relations “based on their mutual interests,” said Akiko Yoshioka, a Russian policy specialist and researcher at the Canon Institute for Global Studies in Tokyo.

“As the war in Ukraine drags on and Russia has faced shortages of ammunition and human resources,” North Korea has provided a “timely opportunity” for Moscow, which has sought to rally support from other nations, he added. Yoshioka. For North Korea, stronger ties with Russia could help prevent the U.N. Security Council from imposing additional sanctions on its nuclear and missile programs, said Hiromi Kamoshita, an associate professor at Konan Women’s University in western Korea. from Japan.

The measure would allow Pyongyang to “further strengthen its national security,” said the Korean studies expert, who added that relations between Russia and North Korea “will remain strong” as long as Moscow continues its aggression in Ukraine. North Korea was created on September 9, 1948 with the backing of the Soviet Union, Russia’s predecessor. Russia is one of five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with Britain, China, France and the United States.

In late April, a former UN independent expert group tasked with monitoring the implementation of sanctions on North Korea ended its activities, and its reauthorization was blocked by a Russian veto.

Faced with the possibility that the United Nations will cease to function effectively, experts suggest that the G7 and other like-minded countries create a surveillance network on North Korea, and urge Japan, being directly under the North Korean military threat, to lead the effort. initiative.

Kamoshita also noted that North Korea could be obtaining data from missiles used on real Ukrainian battlefields, which could benefit Pyongyang’s arms business and improve weapons performance in the future.

In a bid to expand multinational efforts beyond the G7 in controlling this type of arms trade, Japan should involve China, a country with friendly ties to both Russia and North Korea.

“This data could contribute to North Korea developing missiles with irregular trajectories capable of evading the defense systems of Japan and the United States in the future,” endangering regional peace and stability, Kamoshita said.

In these difficult security circumstances, experts stress the importance of Beijing’s involvement, noting that China, North Korea’s closest and most influential ally, probably does not want to be seen forming a bloc with Pyongyang and Moscow.

China has apparently been “harboring bad feelings” against deepening ties between Russia and North Korea, as Moscow’s growing engagement with Pyongyang would, in turn, undermine Beijing’s influence over the North, Kamoshita said.

“Japan and G7 members have no choice but to constantly urge China to act as a regional power responsible for security” in the Asia-Pacific area, he added.

Experts, for their part, stated that Russia and North Korea could be showing off their close relations to strengthen their negotiating power with the United States, in case former President Donald Trump wins the upcoming presidential elections in November.

During his four-year term beginning in 2017, Trump, a Republican businessman turned politician, aimed to build relations with both Putin and Kim. In 2018, Trump and Kim held the first-ever summit between the United States and North Korea, although their talks ended in failure.


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