N. Korea likely to focus on building ‘three axes’ of its weapons system next year: expert

SEOUL– North Korea is likely to push forward with the development of its strategic and tactical nuclear weapons as well as reconnaissance satellites next year as Pyongyang seeks to strengthen its nuclear and missile capabilities, according to an expert Friday.

“For the goal of the North Korean version of possessing ‘two bombs and one satellite,’ the North is likely to develop the three axes (of its weapons system) — intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and reconnaissance satellites,” Hong Min, a researcher at the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), said.

Hong said the North’s possible weapons tests for next year include the firing of solid-fueled ICBMs and the launch of multiple satellites at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground.

The forecast came hours after North Korea announced its successful test of a “high-thrust solid-fuel motor” in developing another “new-type strategic weapon system.”
Meanwhile, Hong said he does not expect the North to conduct a nuclear test in the foreseeable future as the move could hamper its ties with China and Russia.

“In consideration that North Korea’s trade with China has gradually been improving and Pyongyang has been stepping up its strategic solidarity with China and Russia, a potential nuclear test will likely have a huge repercussion,” Hong said.

In terms of technology aspects, the Kim Jong-un regime may also not feel the pressing need to detonate a nuclear device as the country has made public the possession and operation of tactical nuclear weapons, he noted.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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