Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is warning that Russia and China are cooperating closely with North Korea to mutually expand military capabilities.
Austin spoke Tuesday during a meeting of defense ministers at a summit for U.N. Command, the international body that oversees and enforces the Korean War armistice.
“We are deeply concerned that the PRC and Russia are helping the DPRK to expand its capabilities by enabling it to evade sanctions from the U.N. Security Council,” Austin told the group of defense officials.
“DPRK” stands for “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the hermit nation’s official name.
“We’re also troubled by the recent growth in military cooperation between Russia and the DPRK,” he added.
Material cooperation between North Korea, Russia and China has been documented by international intelligence agencies and government officials as diplomacy between the three states ramps up.
North Korean manufacturing and aid have been detected in relation to Russian forces amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, while Russian aid has been documented in North Korea’s continued military satellite program.
“Today we have come together to shore up security for the next 70 years and our shared commitment for the defense of the Republic of Korea, and the peace and stability on this peninsula will remain vital,” Austin said.
Austin’s concerns were echoed by South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik, who referenced Russia and China as countries that “assisted North Korea during the Korean War.”
“If countries that assisted North Korea during the Korean War decide to support it again, they will face consequences similar to those of North Korea,” said Shin. “This meeting will serve as a powerful warning to countries or groups attempting to reject the international order based on rules and seeking to change the status quo through force.”
North Korea, China and the former Soviet Union were the three belligerents against South Korea and its allies during the Korean War.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol reportedly told Austin both of their nations should be ready for “Hamas-style” attacks from North Korea in the region.
The warning came when Yoon invited Austin and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Q. Brown, Jr. to the presidential residence in Seoul for a meeting over dinner, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The outlet, citing presidential spokesperson Lee Do-woon, said Yoon called for “a vigilant South Korea-US combined defense posture capable of promptly and decisively retaliating against any provocations from North Korea, including surprise attacks resembling Hamas-style tactics due to its miscalculation.”
Fox News Digital’s Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.