After Iran, will Russia also modernize the North Korean armies?

Since the Panmunjeom ceasefire signed on July 27, 1953, the Korean peninsula has remained one of the most intense points of tension on the planet. The nuclearization of Pyongyang, starting from the first successful test of a North Korean nuclear weapon on October 9, 2006, then from a first hydrogen bomb in January 2016, considerably changed the status of this frozen but unfinished conflict in the absence of an official armistice. However, if the North Korean armies line up considerable forces, with nearly 1,3 million men under the flag, 600.000 reservists, more than 4000 tanks, 2500 armored vehicles, 8000 artillery systems or 500 combat aircraft , as well as a ballistic and cruise missile force estimated at more than 3000 vectors, this is almost exclusively made up of obsolete equipment dating from the 60s or 70s, and poorly modernized since due to international sanctions applied for more than 3 decades in the country, including by Beijing and Moscow.

In recent weeks, however, several reports, certainly difficult to verify independently but credible, report the possible delivery of ammunition and military equipment by Pyongyang to Moscow in order to support the military effort in Ukraine. This would essentially be artillery ammunition such as 122 and 152 mm shells, as well as 122 mm rockets for the Grad systems and 220 mm for the Ouragan systems, both used by the launchers. - North Korean multiple rockets. The consumption of ammunition is indeed a major problem for the two opposing sides in this conflict, the Ukrainians having, for example, a monthly consumption of 155mm shells of nearly 40.000 units, where the entire production of ammunition of this type in Europe does not exceed 32.000 pieces. If the Russian pre-war stocks were considerable in this field, the consumption of ammunition by the Russian artillery would exceed, according to observers, that of the Ukrainians by a ratio of 1 to 5 or even 1 to 10, in particular to compensate for the lack of precision of the Russian artillery, so that, there again, the production capacities of the Russian industry are not sufficient to compensate for the operational consumption of the forces.

North Korea M1985 Defense Analysis | Nuclear weapons | Artillery
The North Korean armies implement a large number of LRM M1985/1991, local productions of Chinese copies of Russian Grad systems

If Moscow sought from the beginning of the conflict, like Ukraine moreover, international partners able to transfer equipment and ammunition, the efforts of the Russian negotiators have most often been sterile, and only 3 countries have actually responded favorably to repeated requests of the Kremlin: Belarus, Iran and North Korea. For Minsk, it was above all a question of preserving Russian protection, the only guarantor of President Lukashenko's regime. For Tehran, the sustained support for the Russian war effort, it is true considerable with the delivery of thousands of Shahed ammunition drones and, it seems, soon ballistic missiles, has been accompanied by critical agreements on the modernization of the Iranian armed forces under sanction for several decades, and like the North Korean armies, very largely obsolete apart from certain capacities such as missiles. Thus, several converging sources indicate that the 24 Su-35ES initially built for Egypt but whose delivery has been cancelled, could soon be delivered to Tehran while Iranian pilots and maintenance technicians are already trained in Russia. Likewise, it would be a question for Iran to modernize its naval forces by acquiring Russian-built ships, with in both cases a significant redefinition of the balance of power in the Middle East theatre.

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