North Korea-Russia Train Raises Concerns Over Smuggling Munitions
On Friday, November 4, the first freight train left North Korea for Russia. The train with three boxcars entered Russia via the only overland connection between the two countries, a bridge known as the Korean-Russian Friendship Bridge. While it is impossible to determine what the train was carrying, the combination of different facts leads to concerns that it may have been carrying ammunition destined for the Ukrainian front. It is reported by Railway Supply magazine with reference to RailFreight.
According to the analytical center 38North.org, the train of three cars departed from the railway station in North Korea on Friday, November 4, crossed the 800-meter bridge and ended up in Russia three hours after departure. An hour later, the train was spotted at the Khasan station in Russia, where it remained for some time with several additional wagons waiting next to it. Additional wagons may indicate an overload of cargo, which can be sent further to the territory of Russia. However, there is no concrete evidence that the shipment was indeed overloaded or that it consisted of ammunition.
38North.org is the publication of the Stimson Center, a think tank dedicated to promoting international peace and security through a combination of analysis and advocacy. The publication tracks political, economic and social events in North Korea and analyzes information related to weapons of mass destruction. Its members include academics, researchers, politicians and diplomats involved in international relations, human rights, intelligence, the military and engineering.
Freight rail traffic between Russia and North Korea resumed a few days ago when the first Russian shipment of 30 purebred Orlov Trotter horses was shipped by rail. The two countries ended trade relations in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and North Korea imposed strict border restrictions to prevent its spread. In September 2022, the two countries decided to reopen the border and resume shipping and trade.
However, there is more. Diplomats and security experts have been sounding the alarm about the development of Russian-North Korean relations for some time now. In particular, John Kirby, the White House national security official, warned that the two states were trading munitions and that North Korea was supplying Russia with artillery shells for use in the war in Ukraine.
Combined with Iran’s confirmed supply of combat drones to Russia, this raises serious concerns in the West. Security experts believe that countries such as Iran and North Korea have supplied, are supplying, and will supply munitions to Russia that could prove critical in the Ukrainian war.
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