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N. Korea's photo offers glimpse of major weapons

All Headlines 17:57 March 29, 2013

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- Media coverage of an emergency military meeting convened by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday shows an overview of its major weapons system, giving a rare glimpse of the isolated communist country's armed forces.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a photo in which Kim is receiving briefings from four senior military officials, turning his back to a strategic operational map titled "The Strategic Forces' Plan to Strike U.S. Mainland" on the left and a list of major weapons written on the wall on the right.

The photo was disclosed by state media when it reported that Kim ordered the Korean People's Army's Strategic Rocket Force to stand ready to strike the U.S. mainland and its bases in Hawaii and Guam in a midnight meeting on Friday.

The list shows that North Korea has 40 submarines, 13 landing ships, six minesweepers, 27 support vessels and 1,852 aircrafts, with some of the numbers covered by senior officials.

Military officials in Seoul said the figure is similar to the defense ministry's estimation of North Korea's weapons system, though there are some differences.

According to the 2012 defense white paper, the North is estimated to have 70 submarines and midget subs, 260 landing ships, 30 mine sweepers, 30 support vessels, 820 fighter jets, 30 surveillance aircrafts, 330 parachute drop aircrafts and 170 training jets.

While there are some disparities between the list and Seoul's assessment, the number of midget subs seems to have been excluded from the list disclosed in the photo, military officials said.

As Pyongyang has never disclosed its weapon system in the past, outside watchers speculate that the North Korean military has mistakenly disclosed the confidential information.

"It may have been leaked accidently," said a senior military official, who asked to remain anonymous. "It could have been unveiled as the North hurriedly reported the emergency meeting."

Others said the photo may be aimed at stoking tensions by showing that Kim is mulling ways to strike the U.S., considering the operational map that has several lines between the Korean Peninsula and the U.S. Its details were not recognizable in the photo.

On March 20, the KCNA reported that Kim conducted a military inspection and disclosed a photo that shows three attack drones, which the media said are designed to hit targets in South Korea if it is provoked.

The two Koreas still remain technically at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an Armistice Agreement.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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