South Korea Agrees to Loan 500,000 Artillery Rounds to The U.S.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin shake hands as they attend the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding and joint news conference at the State Department in Washington on Feb 3, 2023. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

South Korea has reportedly reached an agreement with the United States to loan 500,000 155mm artillery rounds. This lending of ammunition could allow for the U.S. and NATO to have more flexibility when it comes to arming Ukraine in the near future. Since last February, South Korea has mostly refrained from arming Ukraine, citing their concerns with North Korea. Aliyah Korean leadership believes their weapons and ammunition are needed to deter hostilities from their northern counterparts.

This new lending method comes after the U.S. purchased 100,000 artillery rounds from South Korea last year. An unidentified government source that spoke with South Korean media outlet DongA Ilbo said, “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.” South Korean foreign ministry Park Jin confirmed the newspaper’s report and added that his government’s position on arming Ukraine remains unchanged.

This deal comes after leaked documents revealed that South Korea had “grappled with the U.S. request to provide artillery ammunition to Ukraine.” One of the leaked documents revealed that the possibility of selling up to 330,000 rounds to Poland was discussed. Foreign Minister Jin is expected to meet with President Biden later this month at a summit in Washington. The supply of artillery ammunition to Ukraine will very likely be discussed during the summit.