North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a Russian airbase in Vladivostok on September 16, 2023, where he was shown nuclear-capable bombers, according to Russian state media.
According to a news report by the AP on September 16, Kim’s visit to the airbase comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, as North Korea has conducted a series of missile tests in recent months.
North Korea Leader Kim Jong Un listens to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as he inspects Russian warplanes at Vladivostok International Airport.
The United States and its allies have condemned Kim’s visit to the airbase and have called on Russia to end its support for North Korea’s nuclear program.
“We are deeply concerned about Kim Jong Un’s visit to the Russian airbase,” said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price. “This visit is a clear sign that North Korea is seeking to further develop its nuclear and missile programs. We call on Russia to end its support for North Korea’s nuclear program.”
Price also warned that the United States would take action if North Korea were to launch a nuclear attack.
“The United States has a clear and credible deterrent against North Korea’s nuclear program,” said Price. “We will take all necessary steps to defend ourselves and our allies from a North Korean nuclear attack.”
Analysts say that Kim’s visit to the airbase is a sign that he is seeking closer military ties with Russia.
“Kim’s visit to the airbase is a clear signal that he is looking to Russia for military support,” said North Korea expert Bruce Klingner. “North Korea is under increasing pressure from the United States and its allies, and it is looking to Russia for help in deterring them.”
Klinger also noted that Kim’s visit to the airbase could be a prelude to a more formal military alliance between North Korea and Russia.
“This visit could be the first step towards a formal military alliance between North Korea and Russia,” said Klingner. “This would be a major development, as it would give North Korea access to Russian military technology and training.”
Experts say that a military alliance between North Korea and Russia would be a major threat to the security of the region.
“A military alliance between North Korea and Russia would destabilize the entire region,” said security expert Michael O’Hanlon. “It would give North Korea a freer hand to develop its nuclear and missile programs, and it would make it more difficult to deter North Korea from attacking its neighbors.”
O’Hanlon also noted that a military alliance between North Korea and Russia would increase the risk of a nuclear conflict in the region.
North Korea Leader Kim Jong Un (centre right) inspects Russian warplanes at Vladivostok International Airport. Photo Credit: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP
“If North Korea and Russia were to form a military alliance, it would increase the risk of a nuclear conflict in the region,” said O’Hanlon. “This is because North Korea and Russia would be more likely to support each other’s nuclear ambitions.”
The visit of Kim Jong Un to the Russian airbase is a significant development that has raised concerns about the future of the Korean Peninsula. It is important to monitor the situation closely and to work to prevent a military conflict from erupting.