U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed concerns on Tuesday that countries enforcing the Korean War armistice under the United Nations are worried about China and Russia aiding North Korea in expanding its military capabilities and evading sanctions imposed by the U.N.
Austin made these remarks during a meeting held in South Korea, which included defense ministers and representatives from the 17 nations comprising the U.N. Command (UNC), the entity responsible for overseeing the armistice.
The United States has accused North Korea of supplying military equipment to Russia for its conflict with Ukraine, and has also accused Moscow of providing technical military assistance to North Korea.
Both North Korea and Russia have denied engaging in any arms deals, though their leaders affirmed a commitment to closer military cooperation during their meeting in Russia’s Far East in September.
China, North Korea’s closest ally, has stated that it is abiding by international obligations.
In a joint statement between the UNC and South Korea, it was declared that the UNC would stand united in the face of any renewed hostilities or armed attack on the Korean peninsula, while also condemning North Korea’s “illicit” nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
South Korean Defence Minister Shin Won-sik warned Pyongyang against any aggressive actions, highlighting the fact that unlike in 1950 when the Korean War erupted, North Korea is now a member state of the United Nations.