Will Russia Deliver Arms to North Korea?

A conflict in North Korea will threaten Russia a lot

What future will the North Korean regime have? One may not say that this is the most important question for today. Yet, one may not say that everyone forgot Kim Jong Il. Sometimes the American administration reminds of its readiness to settle the North Korean problem with the help of any possible means. It goes without saying that it includes the military variant as well. Nevertheless, Washington is not going to focus its attention on North Korea, there are a lot other problems to deal with. N.Korea’s time will come sooner or later. It is hard to say, what is going to happen to Kim’s regime, although its fate depends a lot on the outcome of the war in Iraq.

This way or other, it is about time Russia should decide, if it is ready for the settlement of the North Korean problem. To all appearances, the Russian government does not have any levels to show pressure on Kim Jong Il. This point of view was set out by the chairman of the Korean research center of the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vadim Tkachenko. There has been a press conference held at RIA Novosti news agency recently (the conference was devoted to the war in Iraq and to the perspectives for regulating the situation on the Korean peninsula). As Vadim Tkachenko said at the conference, Russia can only consult North Korea at present, according to the adequate intergovernmental agreement. Russia can not provide the direct military support to North Korea, as it was stipulated in the now defunct document that was signed by the USSR and North Korea. “We could exert influence on Pyongyang’s policy, if we could guarantee its security,” said Tkachenko.

Russia does not have anything to boast of from the economic point of view either. As Vadim Tkachenko stated, the level of economic relations between Russia and North Korea is rather low. The commodity circulation between the two countries is evaluated in the sum of 115 million dollars a year, which makes up five or six percent of N.Korea’s foreign trade. On the other hand, South Korea and Japan’s indexes are four or five times as large. Even the United States of America has better commercial relations with North Korea, as opposed to what Russia has. Experts believe, the development of the entire complex of relations between Russia and North Korea is a way out of the situation. However, this is not going to come easy. Of course, Kim Jong Il and the Russian leadership maintain a contact. However, it is not known, if the North Korean government is ready to listen to Moscow’s opinion.

Anyway, one may assume that North Korea will wish to want something back for that. Kim Jong Il has a big army, although it is not outfitted with up-to-date weapons. To all appearances, the defense technology of the North Korean army is out of date (with the exception for the missile technology). However, the Russian government is hardly ready to export up-to-date arms to North Korea – this will definitely lead to a grand scandal. It does not go about the United States here. South Korea, Japan and China will be much more important in this respect. The governments of these countries will not be happy to know that Pyongyang has modern tanks of the Russian production. On the other hand, Russia can not ignore the North Korean issue: if there is a conflict in the region, it will take place very close to the Russian border. This will be a threat both to the country’s national interests and to Russian people’s lives.

Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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