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ConflictsNorth Korea

North Korea sets new goals to boost military

December 28, 2022

A plan laid out by Kim Jong Un is believed to allude to more weapons testing and increasing tensions with rival South Korea. Seoul has said that any provocation "must be met with retaliation."

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks
Experts believe Kim's comments could be a sign that the reclusive nation would continue accelerating its military buildupImage: KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced new goals for the country's military in the coming year at a party meeting, state media reported Wednesday.

It comes amid rising tensions in the Korean peninsula.

Kim "set forth new key goals for bolstering up the self-reliant defense capability to be pushed ahead with in 2023," the official Korean Central News Agency said, without providing further details.

The North Korean leader's assessment at the plenary meeting of the ruling Workers' Party is believed to allude to more provocative weapons testing and further aggravation of tensions with rival neighbor South Korea.

What is the current situation on the Korean peninsula?

On Monday, five North Korean drones crossed the border prompting Seoul to scramble fighter jets and attack helicopters.

The drones flew above various South Korean cities, including Seoul, in the first such intrusion in five years.

Kim addressed the "newly created challenging situation" on the Korean peninsula and set the direction for the "anti-enemy struggle" and goals for reinforcing defense power and defending national interests, the report said.

Pyongyang has performed a record number of missile tests this year. This also included intercontinental ballistic missiles, which it is prohibited from testing under UN sanctions.

It follows the five-year plan laid out at a Workers' Party congress in early 2021 dedicated to developing "top priority" strategic weapons.

A new intercontinental ballistic missile, hypersonic gliding flight warheads, nuclear-powered submarines, and a reconnaissance satellite were all on the list.

How has South Korea reacted?

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Wednesday that North Korea is not a source of fear because of its nuclear weapons, and its provocations must be met with retaliation, Yonhap news agency reported.

The president's statements came on the same day the defense ministry announced that it is planning to spend 560 billion won ($441.26 million; €414.56 million) over the next five years to strengthen its defense against drones from North Korea.

The plan was outlined in South Korea's 2023–27 midterm defense blueprint.

President Yoon strongly criticized the military's handling of the recent incursion on Tuesday.

Military officials apologized for their actions and claimed that the drones were too small for them to shoot down.

The Defense Ministry set aside funds for four initiatives that will improve counter-drone capabilities, including an aerial laser to eliminate drones and a jammer to disable smaller devices.

It also seeks to procure more stealth jets in addition to ballistic missile submarines. It also attempts to hasten the development of artillery rocket interceptor systems.

ss/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)