The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitic­s -

A Pen­tagon re­port to Congress warns that North Korea will not eas­ily give up its nu­clear arms since the weapons are viewed as a prime guar­an­tor keep­ing the Kim Jong-un regime in power.

“North Korea’s pri­mary strate­gic goal is per­pet­ual Kim fam­ily rule via the si­mul­ta­ne­ous de­vel­op­ment of its econ­omy and nu­clear weapons pro­gram — a twopronged pol­icy known as ‘byungjin,’” the an­nual re­port on mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ments in North Korea states.

“This strat­egy re­lies heav­ily on de­ter­rence: strate­gic de­ter­rence through its nu­clear weapons pro­gram and sup­port­ing de­liv­ery sys­tems; and con­ven­tional de­ter­rence through the fielding of a large, heav­ily-armed, for­ward-de­ployed mil­i­tary that presents a con­stant threat to [South Korea], par­tic­u­larly the [Greater Seoul met­ro­pol­i­tan area].”

The North Kore­ans have se­lec­tively mod­ern­ized their 1 mil­lion-troop mil­i­tary and re­gard nu­clear weapons as the most ef­fec­tive way to pre­vent an at­tack from the United States.

The re­port, based on clas­si­fied De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency find­ings, notes that re­cent state­ments from Py­ongyang in­di­cate that the regime be­lieves it is near­ing a “fi­nal vic­tory” over the United States and South Korea and sug­gests Mr. Kim “has larger am­bi­tions, in­clud­ing [the] use of nu­clear weapons to de­ter in­ter­fer­ence if it at­tempts to re­unify the Korean Peninsula.”

The re­port did not say how many nu­clear weapons the North Kore­ans pos­sess. But U.S. of­fi­cials said the num­ber is some­where be­tween 20 and 40 bombs or war­heads.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Pen­tagon an­a­lysts say North Korea is pre­pared to ac­cept a de­cline in re­la­tions with its re­gional neigh­bors, in­clud­ing China, the coun­try’s main bene­fac­tor, to fur­ther its nu­clear arms pro­gram. The regime “con­tin­ues to in­vest in its nu­clear in­fra­struc­ture.”

An­other in­di­ca­tor of North Korea’s at­tach­ment to nu­clear arms was the en­act­ment of a law in 2013 declar­ing the coun­try a nu­clear weapons state.

The law jus­ti­fies the nu­clear pro­gram and is “an­other signal that it does not in­tend to give up its pur­suit of nu­clear de­vel­op­ment.”

The law gives Mr. Kim the power to de­ploy nu­clear arms to re­pel an in­va­sion or at­tack from a hos­tile nu­clear weapons state and to make re­tal­ia­tory strikes.

The re­port was pro­duced in Fe­bru­ary, and the in­for­ma­tion in it was lim­ited to in­tel­li­gence sup­plied up to De­cem­ber — three months be­fore the sur­prise an­nounce­ment in March that North Korea agreed to a sum­mit meet­ing be­tween Pres­i­dent Trump and Mr. Kim.

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