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North Korea Pumping ‘Serious Resources’ Into Navy

REUTERS/KCNA

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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North Korea is dumping “serious resources” into its naval forces, says a U.S.-based think-tank.

Satellite images show North Korea has been making “aggressive efforts” to upgrade its primary naval base, reports the U.S.-Korea Institute’s “38 North” blog. The Munchon Naval Base at Wonsan, which sits beside the Sea of Japan, is North Korea’s largest naval base. It’s a major focus of North Korean military spending. North Korea aims to improve the training facilities, conventional weapons systems, special operations capabilities and new ship support facilities.

The Munchon Naval Base was left largely untouched during Kim Jong Il’s reign; work on the base has become more frequent since 2014.

Munchon consists of 16 operational support units. Unit 155 has been developing the single NONGO-class missile armed patrol craft, which was used during the Feb. 6, 2015, test of the K-35 anti-ship cruise missile. Facilities for the Korean People’s Navy (KPN) sniper brigade, Unit 291, are reportedly being upgraded as well. All five sniper battalions for the East Sea Fleet will be stationed here, along with 68 to 84 Kongbang II/III-class hovercraft.

Enhanced facilities at Munchon could boost the KPN’s coastal defenses, and give the KPN the ability to launch an amphibious assault against South Korea.

North Korean militarization is raising serious concerns in South Korea.

“I call on you to maintain a robust posture to retaliate,” South Korean President Park Geun-hye told her senior military advisers Monday in response to recent North Korean military activities. “Make sure that any attempt by the North at engaging in any form of provocation will lead to the self-destruction of the North Korean regime.”

Tensions are running high on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. and South Korea are wrapping up an annual two-week drill, the Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which prompted North Korea to threaten pre-emptive nuclear strikes against U.S. and South Korean targets. North Korea also fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

“They will face a most merciless and miserable end,” the Korean Central News Agency reported Friday, citing a defense white paper which criticized the U.S. and South Korea.

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