NBC: Intelligence officials say Russia, North Korea planning to disrupt US elections

nbc: intelligence officials say russia, north korea planning to disrupt us elections

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur Oblast on Sept. 13, 2023. (Vladimir Smirnov / POOL / AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration is increasingly concerned that Russia and North Korea could be planning an "October surprise" to create turmoil and increase global tensions in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election in November, NBC News reported on May 24, citing senior U.S. officials.

"We have no doubt that North Korea will be provocative this year. It’s just a matter of how escalatory it is," a U.S. intelligence official told the news outlet.

Increasingly isolated on the world stage after the launch of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has sought to foster closer ties with North Korea, particularly in the military sphere.

With Russia's military stocks running low and domestic production capacity simultaneously hampered by Western sanctions, North Korea has been shaping up as Russia's leading weapons supplier, reportedly providing Moscow with extensive military packages, including ballistic missiles and over 3 million artillery shells.

According to NBC News, what it dubs the "October surprise" could be moves to expand Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities and increase tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

U.S. officials told the news outlet there are concerns Russia could be helping North Korea with the final steps needed for the country to field its first nuclear-armed submarine.

But they also cautioned that their picture of the assistance between the two countries is far from clear.

The U.S. has been able to keep a relatively close eye on actual shipments of weapons but the sharing of military technology is much harder to track.

"The higher-end Russia technical assistance comes in forms that are very difficult indeed to monitor," a senior administration official said.

Elsewhere, South Korea's intelligence service is conducting a review into suspicions that North Korea has provided Russia with artillery shells and other weaponry manufactured in the 1970s, the country's National Intelligence Service (NIS) said on May 12.

The NIS' remarks come in response to recent South Korean media reports that allege 122 mm artillery shells manufactured in North Korea in the 1970s were used on Ukraine's eastern front. Both Ukrainian and U.S. officials have previously confirmed that Russia has been using North Korean-produced weaponry to attack Ukraine.

"The NIS is analyzing the relevant circumstance in detail and also continues to track overall military cooperation between North Korea and Russia," the intelligence agency said, amid concern that North Korea is procuring older weapons to develop new ones.

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