Refuting a report in The New York Times which quoted an unnamed US official as saying that Moscow is the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from Pyongyang for use in Ukraine, North Korea on Thursday rejected the allegation saying that it had never sold weapons to Russia and has no plans to do so in the future.
North Korean state media agency KCNA, carrying a statement quoting an unnamed North Korean official, said: "We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them."
The agency went on to accuse the US and its allies of spreading rumours to "pursue its base political and military aims".
The report by The New York Times claimed that since Russia was facing a shortage of munitions as a result of the grinding conflict in Ukraine, Moscow could purchase "literally millions of rounds, rockets and artillery shells."
However, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later walked back the statement, caution the press that while such a transfer may indeed happen, they remained unconfirmed and no exchange had taken place so far.
North Korea, which bases a significant part of its deterrent against South Korea's vastly superior military in the form of its massive artillery forces positioned close to the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) near the South Korean capital Seoul, is known to possess massive stockpiles of artillery shells and rockets.
To add to this, the vast majority of Pyongyang's aging Cold War-era arsenal is either Soviet in origin, or derived from Soviet equipment -- meaning it is compatible with Russian weapons systems.