Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs

North Korea

On December 31, 2022, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un delivered a speech with a call for a dramatic increase in the hermit kingdom’s number of nuclear weapons.

For 2023, Kim said that North Korea must “produce powerful Juche weapons that will undoubtedly overwhelm the aggressor U.S. imperialists and puppet forces.” Juche is the state ideology of North Korea. The North Korean state refers to nuclear weapons as the “treasured swords of Juche.” Ballistic missiles are also part of the Juche arsenal.

In addition, in his speech, Kim applauded North Koreans for advancing North Korea’s defense capabilities.

According to North Korea state media, Rodong Sinmun, Kim provided a report of objectives to members of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

In the report, Kim said that North Korea plans to launch its first “military satellite, develop an intercontinental missile with rapid nuclear counterattack capability, and exponentially increase North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.”

To date, subject matter experts estimate North Korea has between 40 – 116 nuclear weapons.

Kim’s speech wasn’t the only headline-grabbing news.

North Korea ended the last day of 2022 by launching three short-range ballistic missiles, conducting more missile tests than any previous year.

The Takeaway

North Korea’s nuclear stockpile and ballistic missiles will continue to pose a serious threat on the Korean Peninsula. For 2023, we will likely see more North Korean missile tests than we did in 2022. The increased number of missile tests will only escalate tensions between the U.S., its allies South Korea and Japan, and North Korea.

Most of North Korea’s satellite launches have failed. Whether the hermit kingdom can successfully launch a military satellite is unknown. Last month, North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration said it would be ready to launch its first military satellite by April 2023. If so, we may see the launch on April 15, as it is the Day of the Sun in the country, celebrating the birth of Kim il-sung, the founder of the hermit kingdom.