NORTH KOREA UNLIKELY TO GIVE UP NUKES
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.