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‘N. Korea is nearing deployment of SLBM for combat,’ says Defense White Paper

‘N. Korea is nearing deployment of SLBM for combat,’ says Defense White Paper

Posted December. 21, 2016 07:02,   

Updated December. 21, 2016 07:23

한국어

‘N. Korea is nearing deployment of SLBM for combat,’ says Defense White Paper
"The Defense White Paper 2016" to be published by the South Korean defense ministry at the end of this month is reportedly set to keep the expression‎ "the North Korean regime and the North Korean military are our main enemy." The Defense White Paper also reportedly contains information suggesting "North Korea’s submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) will be close to deployment for combat." The Defense White Paper is published biennially, and the upcoming publication is the second one published by the Park Geun-hye administration.

According to the South Korean military authority on Tuesday, the Defense White Paper 2016 includes a line suggesting that the North Korean regime and the North Korea military are our main enemy. The military had deleted the expression‎ "main enemy" since the Defense White Paper 2004, which was published during the liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration, but has been clarifying that "the North Korean regime and the North Korean military are our main enemy" since the Defense White Paper 2010. With military threat posed by North Korea having escalated due to Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, the South Korean military apparently had to change such perception toward the North in tandem.

Another issue of interest is how the new White Paper will describe the North’s nuclear capability including whether Pyongyang has completed the development of SLBM for combat and the miniaturization of nuclear warheads. The Defense White Paper 2014 used the expression‎ "North Korean nuclear weapons" for the first time by saying that "North Korea’s capability to miniaturize nuclear weapons has reached a significant level.” The publication also suggested that the North was suspected of possessing 40 kilograms of plutonium and was carrying out a uranium enrichment program.

“The Defense White Paper 2016 reportedly includes information that SLBM is close to deployment for combat, but description about the North’s nuclear capability including the miniaturization of nuclear warheads is believed to be not much different from that in 2014,” said a source in the South Korean military. This means that the new White Paper will not include information that reflects the North’s claim that the North has achieved the miniaturization of nuclear warheads and thus completed the development of a nuclear missile, or deployed nuclear weapons.

On this issue, watchers in and outside the South Korean military argue that the North can be effectively seen as having completed the miniaturization of nuclear warheads, considering that Pyongyang successfully conducted two nuclear tests and test fired an SLBM and a long-range missile this year.



Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com