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Russia releases a portion of North Korea's frozen assets in exchange for arms supplies

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Estimated Reading Time: 2 min

North Korea has reportedly exchanged weapons with Russia in return for the release of part of its assets frozen in a Russian bank due to UN sanctions, as per intelligence sources in US allied countries cited by The New York Times.

According to these intelligence reports, Russia has authorized the unblocking of $9 million out of the $30 million frozen North Korean assets, with the intention of the DPRK using this sum to acquire crude oil.

Additionally, the intelligence community suggests that a North Korean company has opened an account in another Russian bank located in the unrecognized South Ossetia. This action raises concerns that Russia might be assisting North Korea in bypassing UN sanctions that prohibit financial transactions with the country.

While US officials claim they lack specific details regarding Moscow’s banking agreements with Pyongyang, a senior official notes that these arrangements align with the expectations of what North Korea would demand from Russia in exchange for arms supplies.

Experts emphasize that access to financial networks is just one of North Korea’s objectives. They suggest that the DPRK is primarily seeking advanced military equipment from Russia, including satellite technology and nuclear submarines.

Juan Sarate, former US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Combating Terrorist Financing, warns that if Russia allows North Korea to utilize its banks or releases frozen assets, it risks becoming a financial and commercial rogue in dealing with North Korea.

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