DoD Releases 2013 Update on North Korea’s Military and Security Developments

Map of North KoreaThe U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released this week its annual (2013) report to Congress on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK/North Korea) military and security developments. The report addresses “the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, the goals and factors shaping North Korean security strategy and military strategy, trends in North Korean security, an assessment of North Korea’s regional security objectives, including an assessment of the North Korean military’s capabilities, developments in North Korean military doctrine and training, an assessment of North Korea’s proliferation activities, and other military security developments.”

DoD maintains throughout the report that the DPRK is a “continued security challenge to the U.S. and its allies”, particularly due to its posture toward a main U.S. ally in the region, the Republic of Korea (ROK/South Korea). According to the report, the DRPK “fields a large, forward-deployed military that retains the capability to inflict serious damage on the ROK”, demonstrated on a smaller scale by the sinking of South Korean naval vessel CHEONAN in 2010. Current estimates of North Korea’s naval, air, and military forces are presented in the report in three separate maps and charts of orders of battle.

Additionally, the report highlights that the DPRK continues to seek nuclear capabilities. In February 2013 it conducted a nuclear test and subsequently announced that it would “restart and refurbish” nuclear facilities at its major nuclear research center, Yongbyon. North Korea has also continued to pursue increased ballistic missile capabilities, which are presented in the report in a chart of estimated current ballistic missile forces.

Finally, the U.S. anticipates that the strategic goals of former leader Kim Jong Il will remain consistent in 2014 under current leader, Kim Jong Un. These strategies are listed as internal security, coercive diplomacy, development of strategic military capabilities to deter external attack, and challenging ROK and the U.S.-ROK alliance.

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