New Treaty between Russia, N. Korea: Pact Shows Blatant Disregard for International Order

Blatantly ignoring U.N. Security Council resolutions and sanctions, Russia and North Korea signed a new treaty to strengthen military cooperation.

Such a coalition between the two countries will shake the international order to its very foundation and adversely affect world security, notably in East Asia. It is absolutely unacceptable.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently visited North Korea for the first time in 24 years. The “comprehensive strategic partnership” pact that he signed with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who also is general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, stipulates that if either Russia or North Korea faces armed aggression, military assistance will be provided without delay.

After signing the treaty, Kim said, “Our two countries’ relations have been elevated to the new higher level of an alliance.”

Relations between the countries had grown apart following the collapse of the Soviet Union. But they have been rapidly strengthening their ties again, due to no less than the fact that both have become increasingly isolated under international pressure, which has forced them to become more dependent on each other militarily.

The concern is that Russia will use the conclusion of the treaty as a means to expand its procurement of missiles and ammunition from North Korea, which Moscow has promoted secretly, thus prolonging its war on Ukraine.

Arms dealing with North Korea is prohibited under U.N. Security Council resolutions that Russia also approved. But a Security Council panel of experts that monitors the implementation of sanctions against Pyongyang has determined that North Korean-produced missiles have been fired into Ukraine.

In response, this spring Russia used its veto power to deny an extension of the panel’s term, forcing it to be abolished. On top of that, Moscow is blatantly pursuing military cooperation in violation of sanctions against North Korea.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia is in a position to ensure that member states abide by U.N.-led rules. It must be said that despite this, promoting military cooperation with North Korea is a betrayal of the Security Council and that Russia is unfit to remain as a permanent member.

In return for North Korea’s arms exports, Russia is believed to be providing Pyongyang with technology to develop missiles and reconnaissance satellites. The supplying of crude oil and food has also been noted.

If North Korea’s nuclear and missile technology improves, it will pose a direct threat to Japan and South Korea. Japan must strengthen cooperation with the United States and South Korea for the sake of regional stability without succumbing to military intimidation from Russia and North Korea.

China is falling in line with Russia and North Korea in terms of opposing the U.S.-led world order. However, it may not be in China’s interests if North Korea continues its military buildup and acts on its own, or the United States and other countries increase pressure on China because of the perception that Beijing is taking a pro-Russian stance.

China should not give its tacit approval of the Russia-North Korea coalition, but should urge them to exercise self-restraint.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 21, 2024)