N. Korean Weapons May Not Be Much of a Boon to Russia

Experts raise questions over the quality of the supplies
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 7, 2022 10:15 AM CDT
N. Korean Weapons May Not Be Much of a Boon to Russia
North Korea is apparently moving to sell millions of rockets and artillery shells, many of them likely from old stock, to its Cold War ally Russia.   (KRT via AP Video, File)

North Korea is apparently moving to sell millions of rockets and artillery shells—many of them likely from its old stock—to its Cold War ally Russia. Russia has called a US intelligence report on the purchasing plan "fake." But US officials say it shows Russia's desperation with the war in Ukraine. The ammunitions North Korea reportedly intends to sell to Moscow are likely copies of Soviet-era weapons that can fit Russian launchers. But there are still questions over the quality of the supplies and how much they could actually help the Russian military.

The North keeps a significant stockpile of shells, many of them copies of Soviet-era ones. North Korea "may represent the single biggest source of compatible legacy artillery ammunition outside of Russia, including domestic production facilities to further supplies," said Joseph Dempsey, research associate for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). But the type of ammunitions North Korea would provide to Russia "are likely to be old and somewhere close to expiring," said Moon Seong Mook, an analyst at South Korea's Korea Research Institute for National Strategy.

But Bruce Bennett, a senior security expert at the California-based Rand Corporation, said most of the artillery rounds to be sent to Russia are likely to be ammunition for small arms, such as AK-47 rifles or machine guns. North Korea's old artillery systems, whose ammunitions will likely be supplied to Russia, have a reputation for poor accuracy, reports the AP. During North Korea's artillery bombardment of South Korea's front-line Yeonpyeong Island in 2010 that killed four people, Bennett said that only 80 of the 300 to 400 weapons North Korea should have fired likely hit their target.

story continues below

"That is miserable artillery performance. The Russians may experience the same thing, which will not make them very happy," Bennett said. It's unclear how serious Russia's shortage of ammunitions is. In July, a senior US defense official told reporters that Russia was launching tens of thousands artillery rounds each day and couldn't keep it up forever. "While substantial stockpiles likely still exist, they may be increasingly infringing on those reserved for the contingency of a wider future conflict," Dempsey said.

(More Russia stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.