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North Korea's sub-launched missile at focus of South's defense concerns

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea's sub-launched missile at focus of South's defense concerns
North Korea’s advancements in SLBM development is worrying Seoul’s defense officials. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun

SEOUL, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- North Korea's deployment of submarine-launched ballistic missiles will become more "visible" in the near future, according to a South Korean defense official.

The source, who spoke anonymously to local newspaper Donga Ilbo, was referring to South Korea's 2016 defense white paper that's published in late December or early January.

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The paper has not yet been released, but Pyongyang's development of SLBMs is the focus of defense concerns in South Korea.

According to the source, the paper also explicitly states, "The North Korean regime and military forces are [South Korea's] enemies," a position that has been repeatedly expressed since 2010.

In its 2014 defense white paper, released in January 2015, Seoul had stated North Korea had reached warhead miniaturization capabilities of a "considerable level."

The previous paper estimated North Korea retains about 90 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium.

On Wednesday Donga's source said, "While the 2016 defense white paper will state actual deployment of SLBMs is to become more visible, there will not be much difference in position regarding the achievement of nuclear miniaturization from 2014."

The source also said Seoul's white paper is not including North Korea's claimed position on nuclear weapons.

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Pyongyang has previously stated it has completed nuclear miniaturization or has deployed nuclear weapons, but skepticism remains in South Korea about such claims, according to the report.

Last week a U.S. government official told Japanese broadcaster NHK that North Korea secretly tested a SLBM in December and that the activity was detected at a land-based North Korea facility.

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