South Korea says ‘significant’ number of leaked US docs are fake
South Korea on Tuesday said a “significant portion” of leaked US intelligence documents indicating concerns in Seoul about arms supplies to Ukraine were fake.
The documents are part of a broader leak the Pentagon has described as a “very serious” national security risk. It has also created a diplomatic headache for Washington as they appear to show US spying on close allies including South Korea and Israel.
Some files reportedly show concern among top South Korean national security officials that arms and ammunition manufactured by their country might end up being used in Ukraine — a violation of Seoul’s policy of not selling weapons to nations at war.
In a call on Tuesday, the South Korean defence minister and the US secretary of defense agreed that “a significant number of the documents in question were fabricated”, the presidential office in Seoul said in a statement.
Dozens of photographs of the documents have been circulating on social media platforms and messaging services including Twitter, Telegram and Discord for at least weeks.
The Pentagon has said it is working to determine if the documents are genuine, and that at least one appeared to have been manipulated.
However, US officials reportedly believe many of the documents are real.
The leak has prompted US officials to reassure allies such as South Korea, which has provided non-lethal and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded last year.
But Seoul has a long-standing policy against providing weapons to countries in active conflict, which it says makes it difficult to supply arms directly to Ukraine.
The revelation of the purported Ukraine discussions among top national security officials has sparked criticism in South Korea about the vulnerability of sensitive sites including the presidential office.
But President Yoon Suk Yeol’s office pushed back Tuesday, saying it had “iron-clad security” and that allegations of eavesdropping were “senseless lies”.
Yoon is scheduled to travel to the United States later this month on a state visit. AFP