White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday that the United States had concerns about possible defense cooperation between Russia and North Korea.
Kirby said the United States would carefully monitor contacts between Moscow and Pyongyang.
“No nation on the planet, no one should help (Russian President Vladimir) Putin kill innocent Ukrainians. And if they decide to do some kind of arms deal, of course we will take that into account and deal with it in a certain way appropriately,” he added.
Putin met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Russia’s most advanced spaceport on Wednesday, as the United States and South Korea warned of a possible arms transfer.
Kim pledged his “full and unconditional support” for Putin’s “all decisions” in an apparent reference to Russia’s war in Ukraine during talks at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East near the border with China.
Kim also invited Putin to visit North Korea and Putin accepted, North Korean state media reported.
Media reports previously quoted unnamed Western officials as saying that Russia hoped to receive North Korean artillery shells for use in the war in Ukraine, while Pyongyang appeared to want advanced technology for its satellites and nuclear submarines, as well as food aid from Moscow.
“We need to discuss the issues of economic and humanitarian cooperation and the situation in the region,” Putin told Kim.
The two first toured the spaceport, where reporters asked whether Russia would help North Korea build satellites.
“That’s why we came here,” Putin said, according to Russian state media. Kim “shows great interest in space engineering; they’re also trying to explore space.”
While Kim visited Russia on Wednesday, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast. The South Korean military said the missiles were fired near Pyongyang and traveled about 400 miles (650 km).
Ahead of the talks, South Korean officials said they would closely monitor the first meeting between Kim and Putin in four years.
“Cooperation between Russia and North Korea should aim to contribute to peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula while respecting relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” a UN Security Council spokesman said on Wednesday. South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The United States and South Korea have renewed their warnings to North Korea not to provide Russia with ammunition that could be used in the war in Ukraine.
“Any arms transfer from North Korea to Russia would violate multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said during a briefing on Tuesday. “We will monitor what happens and we will not hesitate to take steps to hold those responsible accountable if necessary.”
Analysts have noted China’s silence on the Putin-Kim talks. They said China was handling the situation cautiously and was reluctant to be drawn into the controversy as the world watched talks about arms deals between North Korea and Russia.
According to Jung Dae-jin, director of the Han Peace Institute at Halla University in South Korea, “China does not need to announce its position at the summit” to highlight tensions over Ukraine as it prepares to host the Asian Games in Hangzhou .
Others, including Professor Lee Byong-Chol of Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies, doubt that Russia is willing to supply North Korea with advanced technology.
Lee said to that Voice of America On Wednesday, Russia announced a technology transfer to North Korea, as Kim demanded, but only in a very basic way.
Russian media reported that Kim and Putin had no plans to sign official documents after their face-to-face meeting concluded. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that the talks were “important and substantive.”
Kim held his first summit with Putin on April 25, 2019 in the Russian port city of Vladivostok.