VOA News – Security Experts “References North Korea’s New Weapons Development, Diplomatic Message Rather Than Immediate Threat”

In July 2019, North Korea revealed that Chairman Kim Jong-un visited the new submarine building facility.
In July 2019, North Korea revealed that Chairman Kim Jong-un visited the new submarine building facility.


Recently, at the 8th Congress of the North Korean Labor Party, a plan to develop a nuclear-powered submarine and a hypersonic missile was first mentioned. Security experts in the United States analyze it as a statement that is conscious of future diplomatic strategies rather than immediate threats. Reporter Kim Dong-hyun covered it. 

Chairman Kim Jong-un officially mentioned the development of nuclear submarines and hypersonic missiles in the report on the 8th Labor Party Conference.

Nuclear submarine and hypersonic missile development formalized at the North Korean Labor Party conference

In particular, he emphasized that the design study for nuclear-powered submarines has been completed and is in the final screening stage, and proposed the possession of nuclear submarines and underwater-launched nuclear strategic weapons that can improve nuclear long-range strike capability as a national task.

In the case of strategic nuclear weapons, he stated that it is necessary to improve its accuracy within the range of 15,000 km to improve its nuclear preemptive and retaliatory strike capabilities, and emphasized that the multi-warhead development guidance technology has reached the deadline.

In addition, it announced that it would further develop small and lightweight tactical nuclear weapons and continue to promote ultra-large nuclear warheads, and emphasized the development of hypersonic gliding vehicles and reconnaissance satellites within the near term.

US Department of Defense succeeds in flying hypersonic gliding vehicle… Experts “Possibility of securing North Korean-related technology
The U.S. Department of Defense announced that it has succeeded in testing a hypersonic glide that is being developed as part of the development of a next-generation strategic weapon system. It is characterized by overwhelmingly faster speed than intercontinental ballistic missiles, and experts point out that North Korea has the potential to secure technology as well.

US security experts have analyzed that the announcement of North Korea’s state-of-the-art weapons development plan is based on diplomatic purposes.

Former Commander Brooks “Mostly no performance tests… Internal-diplomatic aim” 

On the 11th, the chairman of the USFK Combat Association (KDVA), who served as commander of the ROK-US Combined Forces, pointed out to the VOA on the 11th, “If it was a military message, a performance demonstration would have been accompanied, but it was not.”

[Recording: Former Commander Brooks] “So I view more as a diplomatic message, not a military message. And it is evident that Kim Jong Un is resetting the arrangement that makes possible an engagement with South Korea and with the United States. That’s my conclusion… That’s why I say it is a diplomatic message, not a military one. So if it were a military message, it would be coupled with demonstrated capability and this is not demonstrated capability. This is projected capability, and maybe some demonstrated capability within it but mostly projected capability… And that’s why the ranges that were included, the hypersonic glide vehicles, multiple reentry vehicles, those are things that concern the United States. And so that was a way of saying,’And we want the United States to remain interested in us’… ”

It is explained that the majority of North Korea’s new weapons development plans are “expected capabilities” rather than current practical capabilities.

In particular, he analyzed that hypersonic missiles and reentry of multiple warheads seem to be targeting the areas of greatest concern to the United States, and sent a signal to the new administration of Biden that the United States wants the United States to remain interested in North Korea.

US experts have mixed views on the evaluation of competing North Korea ICBM re-entry capability  
US experts have expressed mixed views on some opinions that North Korea has improved the ICBM reentry to a level that would operate normally. However, if this evaluation is true, it is predicted that there is a high possibility of promoting multiple battles.

Former Commander Brooks said that the details of the weapons plan specifically targeted three types of audience, and the top priority was the hard-liners in the North Korean military, with the intention of reducing the impact of the military in the party and minimizing the ramifications of major position changes. I did.

[Recording: Former Commander Brooks] “I view it as messaging to three primary audiences. And I would say in priority they are to hardliners in North Korea. So his first priority is to internal audiences to signify a continuance of military strength, even after he has reduced military power over the period of this last Congress and with the changes of positions that he made, perhaps moving away from some of the older generation hardliners …The second audience is South Korea. Most of the weapon systems are in the array of things that directly threaten South Korea and Japan, but especially South Korea. Submarine launched ballistic missiles, reconnaissance in depth, etc, satellite. I believe that has the purpose of saying that North Korea wants to have dialogue with South Korea, but that South Korea has to respect North Korea’s strength in this dialogue…

“The purpose of dialogue with Korea is bigger… Possibility to resume high-level dialogue sooner or later”  

In addition, externally, it is a signal to Korea, Japan, and the United States, but considering that most of the weapons mentioned pose a direct threat to Korea, they analyzed that the intention to engage in dialogue with Korea is more intense than the United States.

In particular, the message that this year is the year of inter-Korean dialogue was sent to South Korea, clarifying the condition that South Korea should respect the power of North Korea if dialogue becomes a reality. .

Gary Seymour, former White House WMD coordinator, also analyzed the high-tech weapons listed by North Korea as foreign messages aimed at diplomacy, saying that the high-tech weapons listed by North Korea are not realistically available in the near future.

Former Seymour Coordinator “Resume of nuclear-long-range missile tests not mentioned…very positive” 

In particular, Seymour’s former coordinator said that as an external signal to the United States, not specifying whether to resume long-range missile tests is an interesting and important indicator.

[Recording: Former Seymour Coordinator] “What I found most interesting is that Kim Jong Un did not mention resumption of testing, which is very important because the most immediate concern we’ve all had is that North Korea would resume nuclear or long range missile testing this year. And the fact that Kim Jong Un was silent, I think is a very positive, encouraging indication that North Korea is waiting to hear what the Biden administration has to say about resumption of diplomacy…”

Former Seymour coordinator said it is likely a signal from North Korea to observe the position of the new administration of Biden on the resumption of diplomacy, and that the new administration of Biden needs to respond in response that it is willing to resume diplomacy based on the agreement to denuclearize Singapore.

Bruce Bennett “Goals Unrealistic Given Limited Resources” 

Senior researcher Bruce Bennett’s Rand Research Institute pointed out that given North Korea’s limited resources, there are many practical difficulties in deploying the various advanced weapons mentioned in the conference right away.

[Recording: Senior Researcher Bennett] “First, you’ve got to say, do they have the financial resources to do that? And the answer is got to be no. Secondly, do they have the technology to do all of that? and it’s unlikely they’ve developed their own technology to do all that.”

In particular, it is possible to promote this goal with external help such as China and Russia, but it is still unrealistic to realize all of the plans listed. Rather, it is analyzed that the political purpose is stronger externally.

Prof. Holmes “Successful about the capacity to deploy nuclear submarines”

James Holmes, a professor at the U.S. Naval Staff College, said, “Technology must be followed in order to realize the political aspirations against the United States in order to realize the VOA’s evaluation of the final stage of the design of a nuclear-powered submarine. “I do.”

[Professor Holmes VOA written question answer] “Being able to deter the United States directly is surely an aspiration, but the technology has to catch up with political aspirations for a deterrent strategy to work… North Korea has defied predictions many times in the past, but it still has to obey the laws of physics and engineering to field advanced military hardware… I would also point out that high-tech arms could be aimed at mobilizing national pride and support for the Kim regime, no small thing.”

Professor Holmes explained that North Korea has a history of violating external expectations in the past, but the actual deployment of nuclear-powered submarines requires very difficult technology, and explained that despite high ideals, it is inevitable to follow the laws of physics and advanced military engineering. .

Professor Holmes analyzed that the high-tech targets listed by North Korea are effective in inspiring self-esteem for their country and raising support for the Kim Jong-un regime.

This is VOA News, Donghyun Kim.


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