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UN experts confirm Russia using North Korean missiles

UN experts confirm Russia using North Korean missiles Photo: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (getty images)

The head of a research organization that has been tracking weapons used in attacks against Ukraine since 2018 stated to the United Nations Security Council on Friday that there is indisputable evidence that the ballistic missile remnants found in Ukraine were supplied by North Korea, reports AP.

At the Security Council meeting, the United States and its Western allies stated that Russia and North Korea violated the UN embargo on the export of weapons from North Korea.

Jonah Leff, Executive Director of Conflict Armament Research, provided the council with a detailed analysis of the missile remnants that struck Kharkiv on January 2.

According to him, the organization documented the missile's engine, its tail section, and nearly 300 components produced by 26 companies from eight countries, determining that it was either a KN-23 or KN-24 missile, manufactured in 2023 in North Korea.

"The organization reached its conclusion based on the missile’s unique characteristics — its diameter, distinct jet vane actuators that direct the missile’s thrust and trajectory, the pattern around the igniter, the presence of Korean characters on some rocket components, and other marks and components dating back to 2023," the expert said.

"Following the initial documentation, our teams inspected three additional identical DPRK missiles that struck Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia earlier this year," Leff said.

They also noticed additional conventional weapons, including a 1977-manufactured artillery shell that was captured on the front line and had not previously been seen on the battlefield in Ukraine.

The council discussed the illegal supply of weapons from North Korea at the request of France, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

UN Disarmament Chief Izumi Nakamitsu informed the council on Friday that the group of experts had reviewed Ukraine's report on missile debris it had found "following information about short-range ballistic missiles manufactured in the DPRK and used by Russian armed forces in Ukraine."

Although the experts' mandate, extended since 2009, was terminated due to Russian efforts, Nakamitsu said the Security Council committee responsible for monitoring the implementation of sanctions against North Korea "continues its work and will oversee the implementation of the sanctions regime."

A US representative said that the independent findings of Leff's research organization confirm open-source reports. He also stated that, in addition to dozens of missiles transferred to Russia by North Korea, it had also illegally shipped more than 11,000 containers of ammunition.

North Korean missiles on the battlefield in Ukraine

The first information about Russia using North Korean missiles emerged in January 2024. White House National Security Council Coordinator John Kirby stated that Russia had purchased ballistic missiles from North Korea with a strike range of up to 900 kilometers and had already used them for attacks on Ukraine.

Since then, various sources have confirmed Pyongyang's supply of ammunition to Russia.

In May, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reported that about half of the North Korean missiles used by Russia against Ukraine failed to reach their targets due to a high defect rate.

In June, The Washington Post reported that North Korea could have transferred approximately 1.6 million artillery shells to Russia over six months.