North Korea and Russia sign a mutual defense pact; to assist immediately if either attacked | World news

North Korea and Russia agreed to provide immediate military assistance if both faced armed aggression, under a pact their leaders signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first visit in 24 years.

The two countries will undertake joint actions aimed at “strengthening defense capabilities to prevent war and ensure regional and international peace and security.” (File photo)

The pledge is seen as the revival of a mutual defense agreement under a 1961 treaty adopted by Cold War allies that was annulled in 1990 when the Soviet Union established diplomatic ties with South Korea.

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The “comprehensive strategic partnership” agreement signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is one of Moscow’s most notable moves in Asia in years.

“If either Party is confronted with an armed invasion and is in a state of war, the other Party shall immediately use all available means to provide military and other assistance in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter and the laws of each country.” Article 4 of the agreement says.

Article 51 of the UN Charter provides for the right of a Member State to take individual or collective actions of self-defense.

The pledge by the leaders of the two countries, which face increasing international isolation, comes amid growing concern among the United States and its Asian allies about the extent to which Russia would support North Korea, the only country to achieve a nuclear weapon tested.

Kim echoed Putin’s statement, in which he explicitly linked their closer ties to the fight against the “hegemonist and imperialist” policies of the West and the United States in particular, including its support for Ukraine.

The agreement also states that neither party would sign any treaty with a third country that would prejudice the interests of the other country and would not allow its territory to be used by any country to protect the security and sovereignty of the other to harm the country, according to KCNA.

The two countries will take joint actions aimed at “strengthening defense capabilities to prevent war and ensure regional and international peace and security,” the report said.

South Korea and the White House had no immediate comment on the reported contents of the agreement.

Japan expressed “serious concerns” about Putin’s promise not to rule out cooperation with Pyongyang on military technology.

The response from China, the North’s main political and economic benefactor, has been muted.

Washington and Seoul have become increasingly alarmed by the deepening military cooperation between Russia and the North, accusing the two of violating international law by trading weapons for use in Moscow’s war against Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have said they have found North Korean missile debris in their country.

Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has allowed “the most brazen destruction” of all sanctions imposed on North Korea to halt weapons development.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the pact shows that the authoritarian powers are on the same page.

During his first visit to Pyongyang since 2000, Putin thanked Kim for supporting Russian policies, and Kim reaffirmed “unconditional” and unwavering support for “all Russian policies,” including Putin’s war with Ukraine.

KCNA released the full text of the agreement on Thursday, which also includes cooperation in nuclear energy, space exploration, food and energy security.

Cha Du Hyeogn, a former South Korean government official who is now a fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said the mutual defense pledge is similar to that in the 1961 treaty between the North and the Soviet Union.

But the reference to the UN Charter and the laws of each country is open to interpretation and it was not clear whether the agreement would create an alliance, he said.

“It’s because Kim wants to do everything he can for this agreement, while Putin is reluctant to do so,” Cha said.

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