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South Korea to Lend 500k Artillery Shells to US – DongA Ilbo

South Korea to Lend 500k Artillery Shells to US – DongA Ilbo
Wednesday, 12 April, 2023, 18:24

South Korea has done a deal to lend half a million rounds of 155mm artillery shells to the United States, the local DongA Ilbo newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The agreement aims to give Washington greater flexibility to supply Ukraine with ammunition for its war against Russia.

The Korean paper cited unidentified government sources as saying South Korea decided to “lend” the ammunition instead of selling, to minimise the possibility of South Korean shells being used in the Ukraine conflict.

South Korea’s defence ministry said the allies have been exploring ways to support Ukraine but declined to confirm specific discussions. The US State Department did not immediately offer comment.

The report came after leaked and classified US military documents highlighted South Korea’s difficulties dealing with pressure from Western allies to help supply military aid to Ukraine.

South Korea, a key US ally and major producer of artillery ammunition, says it cannot provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, citing its own security situation amid evolving nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

The newspaper said the shells would be used primarily by the United States to fill its stockpile.

Having bought 100,000 such shells last year, the US government had asked to buy the same amount or more in February, but the South Korean government sought another way to supply the ammunition.

“We’ve opted to significantly increase the volume of shells but take the rental method, after exploring how to respond to the request of the blood ally in good faith while sticking to the government principle of not providing lethal weapons to Ukraine,” one source was quoted as saying.

The article did not provide details on the workings of the “rental method”.

Both Seoul and Washington have confirmed they were negotiating an artillery supply deal, but there has been no official word on whether an agreement was finalised. The paper said the agreement was reached last month.

Foreign Minister Park Jin told reporters that he could not confirm the newspaper report, but added that the government position against providing lethal aid to Ukraine remained unchanged.