By Joori Roh
SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea on Thursday said it has never supplied weapons or ammunition to Russia and has no plans to do so, while warning the United States to "keep its mouth shut" and stop circulating rumours aimed at "tarnishing" the country's image.
"Recently, the U.S. and other hostile forces talked about the 'violation of a resolution' of the UNSC, spreading a 'rumour of arms dealings' between the DPRK and Russia ... We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them," KCNA quoted the country's vice director general of the General Bureau of Equipment of the Ministry of National Defence as saying in a statement, without naming the official.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel earlier this month said that Russia "is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use in Ukraine."
Calling it a "potential purchase", White House national security spokesperson John Kirby later clarified that there were "no indications that purchase has been completed and certainly no indications that those weapons are being used inside of Ukraine."
The United States has also accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine, which Tehran has denied.
Russia also denied the allegations and demanded the United States to provide evidence.
Russia and North Korea have recently talked up their ties.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last month told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the two countries will "expand the comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations with common efforts," in a letter sent for Korea's liberation day.
Kim also sent a letter to Putin saying the "strategic and tactical cooperation, support and solidarity" between the two countries had reached a new level amid their common efforts to frustrate threats and provocations from "hostile military forces".
Ukraine, which is resisting a Russian invasion described by Moscow as a "special military operation", severed relations with Pyongyang after the reclusive nation in July recognised two Russian-backed breakaway "people's republics" in eastern Ukraine as independent states.
(Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Sandra Maler and Richard Pullin)