EXPLAINER How impoverished N. Korea finances testing spree

News Summary

  • They say North Korea likely manufactures weapons at a much cheaper cost than other countries because of free labor and possible clandestine Chinese and Russian support.Whichever is correct, there are no signs that North Korea’s economic hardships are slowing its weapons tests.
  • SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s recent barrage of missile tests, including Wednesday’s record of at least 23 launches, is raising an important question about its weapons program: How does the impoverished country pay for the seemingly endless tests?
  • While some experts say each North Korean launch could cost $2 million to $10 million, others say there is no way to estimate accurately given the North’s extremely secretive nature.
  • “This time, the missile had a stage separation, and I think they’ve achieved quite a big technological progress.”North Korea has argued its missile tests are meant as a warning against a series of U.S-South Korean joint military exercises that it views as an invasion rehearsal.
  • They likely include a developmental Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, surface-to-air missiles and a variety of short-range ballistic missiles.
  • Lee Illwoo, an expert with the Korea Defense Network in South Korea, said it’s impossible for outsiders to accurately estimate weapons production costs in North Korea.
By HYUNGJIN KIM and KIM TONGHYUNG Associated PressSEOUL, South Korea (AP) North Koreas recent barrage of missile tests, including Wednesdays record of at least 23 launches, is raising an import [+6538 chars]