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    India Joins Quad Nations in Message to Russia Over Arms Deals with North Korea

    Quad Foreign Ministers Express Concerns Amid Ongoing North Korea-Russia Talks

    India, after successfully garnering Western support for the G20 Delhi Declaration without condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine, has now aligned with the United States, Japan, and Australia in implicitly urging Russia to exercise caution regarding arms transfer deals with North Korea.

    The foreign ministers of the Quad nations—comprising India, Japan, Australia, and the United States—conveyed a message to Russia, calling upon all member states to adhere to the Security Council resolutions that explicitly prohibit “the transfer to North Korea or procurement from North Korea of all arms and related materiel.”

    During a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar joined his counterparts from Japan, Australia, and the United States—Yoko Kamikawa, Penny Wong, and Antony Blinken, respectively. Following this meeting, a joint statement was issued by the Quad foreign ministers.

    In this statement, the Quad nations condemned North Korea’s destabilizing missile launches employing ballistic missile technology and its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. They reiterated their commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea, consistent with UNSCRs (UN Security Council Resolutions), and urged North Korea to fulfill all its obligations under the UNSCRs while engaging in substantive dialogue.

    The Quad foreign ministers emphasized the critical importance of addressing the proliferation of nuclear and missile technologies linked to North Korea, both within the region and beyond.

    Recently, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, made an unusual weeklong visit to Russia, where he met with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. During their discussions, the leaders explored possibilities for military cooperation. The international community, led by the United States and South Korea, expressed apprehension that this meeting might lead to Russia procuring arms from North Korea to replenish its military stock, which had been depleting over the past 19 months due to its involvement in “special military operations” in Ukraine.

    It’s important to note that North Korea has long been subject to UN Security Council sanctions, and the United States and the European Union have also imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its military actions in Ukraine.

    While India refrained from publicly condemning Russia for its actions in Ukraine, it has been facing criticism from Western nations for not aligning with their stance. India’s historic ties with Russia, particularly its decades-long reliance on Russia for defense equipment, including advanced military hardware, have been cited as factors contributing to this stance. Furthermore, India has continued bilateral trade with Russia and increased imports of oil and coal.

    India’s ability to persuade the United States and other Western nations to refrain from condemning Russia for its actions during the 18th G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month highlighted its nuanced approach to international diplomacy. However, India shares concerns with the United States and others about the possibility of arms transfer deals between Russia and North Korea.

    India has a longstanding concern about the clandestine defense technology cooperation between North Korea and Pakistan. New Delhi suspects that this secretive defense collaboration, which led to the supply of Rodong Missiles and technology to Pakistan in the mid-1990s, may still be ongoing. In 2003, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear program, was found to have traded knowledge and technology with Iran, Libya, and North Korea. Khan later disclosed documents in 2011 to support his claim that North Korea had bribed senior officials in the Pakistani Army, enabling him to share nuclear technology and specific equipment with North Korea. India has previously expressed its apprehensions to Moscow regarding Russia’s eagerness to expand defense cooperation with Pakistan, possibly in response to deepening military ties between India and the United States, as well as their strategic alignment in the Indo-Pacific region.

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