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North Korea's nuclear ambitions will take 'years,' analyst says

North Korea’s submarine-launched system is a “longer-term goal” and years away, according to a missiles analyst this week. File Photo by KCNA/UPI
North Korea’s submarine-launched system is a “longer-term goal” and years away, according to a missiles analyst this week. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- North Korea's plan to develop nuclear-powered submarines and hypersonic weapons could be aspirations, and the regime could be several years away from reaching the goals, an analyst said.

Michael Elleman, a senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said during a video conference on North Korea's Eighth Party Congress the weapons Kim Jong Un has in mind are sophisticated and difficult to develop, Yonhap reported Wednesday.

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"These are very complex projects that take many, many years if not decades to create," Elleman said, according to the report.

"If you look at the history of China's nuclear-powered submarine program and the missile that went into it, it extended over two to three decades and suffered many failures. I think this is more aspirational than anything else at this point."

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Elleman also said the submarine-launched system North Korea is planning is also "more of a longer-term goal, not something that's already been accomplished."

Last week, during a military parade, North Korea displayed its latest submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Pukguksong-5ㅅ.

North Korea's military display could be a warning to the new U.S. administration of President Joe Biden. Biden's nominees say Washington must remain on guard.

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Avril Haines, the president's nominee for director of national intelligence said Tuesday during her confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, understanding the "capabilities and intentions of a country like North Korea is a critical responsibility of the intelligence community."

During the Trump administration, the United States and North Korea held a historic summit and agreed to ease tensions. But diplomacy with North Korea came with former President Donald Trump's demands South Korea pay more for 28,500 U.S. troops on the peninsula. Trump refused to agree to less than a $5 billion annual contribution for troops, and left the door open to troop withdrawal.

The Trump policy, which raised tensions between Seoul and Washington, was addressed on Tuesday during a confirmation hearing for Lloyd Austin, Biden's nominee for secretary of defense.

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Austin said he would bring an early conclusion to prolonged negotiations and "modernize" the U.S.-South Korea alliance, according to Yonhap.

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