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North Korea's factories operate at full swing to accelerate shells supply to Russia

North Korea's factories operate at full swing to accelerate shells supply to Russia Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

North Korean military factories are operating at full capacity to supply arms to Russia in exchange for food and other essential items, according to South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won Sik.

"While North Korea's arms factories operate at 30 percent capacity due to shortages of raw materials and power, certain factories are operating at full capacity, which primarily produces weapons and shells for Russia," Shin said.

According to estimates, North Korea has sent around 6,700 containers to Russia since the meeting between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin in September 2023, he said. This quantity is sufficient to accommodate approximately 3 million 152mm artillery shells and 500,000 122mm artillery shells.

In exchange for supplying weapons to Russia, North Korea appears to receive food products and other essential items, as well as raw materials and components used in weapon production.

The minister stated that Moscow likely also provided satellite technology to Pyongyang, as in November the country launched its first spy satellite into orbit and promised to launch three more this year.

Although the spy satellite is orbiting the Earth, Shin expressed skepticism about North Korea's claim that the satellite is capable of photographing large military targets in South Korea and the United States.

"It shows no signs of functioning and is merely orbiting without activity," he said.

If Russia's dependence on North Korean ammunition and weapons increases, Shin expects that the scale of military technological assistance from Russia will likely expand in the future.

"It remains uncertain to what degree Russia will offer technology related to aircraft and ground equipment sought by North Korea. However, if Russia continues to receive more munitions from North Korea, the scope of technology transfer could increase," he said.

North Korean shells for Russia

According to the State Department, since September 2023, North Korea has supplied Russia with over 10,000 containers of ammunition or materials related to ammunition.

Vadym Skybitskyi, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, said that North Korea has transferred 1.5 million artillery ammunition to the Russian Federation.