Cooperation with Russia Could Transform North Korea’s Threat Level, US Official Cautions
“We’ve never seen a situation like this. Cooperation between North Korea and Russia could dramatically change the level of threat from North Korea over the next decade,” said Pranay Vaddi, senior director of the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House, on the 18th (local time) at a roundtable hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think tank in Washington D.C. He revealed that they are closely monitoring the possibility of a significant expansion of North Korea’s military threat due to the cooperation between North Korea and Russia.
Vaddi explained that despite the strengthening of extended deterrence derived through the Washington Declaration by the Korean and U.S. presidents last year, cooperation between North Korea and Russia could be a major variable.
He said, “We had a conversation about extended deterrence with South Korea over the past year, but at that time, we only based it on the development of North Korea’s own nuclear capabilities, not considering cooperation between North Korea and Russia.” He further emphasized, “We need to pay attention not only to the missiles that North Korea has provided to Russia but also what Russia has provided to North Korea,” and “We need to see what impact this has on the development of North Korea’s capabilities and extended deterrence to protect South Korea and Japan.”
Vaddi’s comments are interpreted to mean that North Korea could receive high-tech military technology in exchange for ballistic missiles and ammunition to Russia, which could lead to significant changes in the security landscape of the Korean Peninsula.
Bruce Bennett, a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation, examined the apprehensions surrounding Russia’s historical support to North Korea, including the provision of a nuclear reactor for testing in the 1960s, highly enriched uranium in the 1980s, and the basis for North Korea’s ballistic missiles originating from old Soviet models. He also raised concerns about the current scenario, where Russia, having requested support, might supply North Korea with advanced technologies such as nuclear submarine and nuclear weapon designs, as well as satellite technology—capabilities sought after by Kim Jong Un.
Vaddi discussed the potential for increased collaboration between North Korea and Russia to diminish China’s sway over North Korea. He highlighted a concern regarding how this North Korea-Russia cooperation might alter China’s capacity to exert influence over North Korea.