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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

All News 16:00 June 05, 2020

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

N.K. food shortages not catastrophic this year despite coronavirus impact: U.S. monitor

SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's food production is expected to be low this year just as in previous years, but the situation is unlikely to be "catastrophic," a U.S. expert said, challenging many forecasts that the coronavirus has further aggravated food insecurity in an economy already faltering under sanctions.

Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute specializing in the North Korean economy, made the case in a report released by the U.S.-based think tank 38 North.

"Judging by current conditions, food production this year may well be low, but probably not catastrophically so, or really much out of the ordinary compared to the past few years," Silberstein said.

Key N.K. uranium plant continues to be updated: U.S. monitor

WASHINGTON, May 29 (Yonhap) -- A major North Korean uranium plant remains operational and continues to be updated, a U.S. think tank said Friday, citing recent satellite imagery.

The Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant, 45 kilometers from the demilitarized zone dividing the Koreas, is critical because it is the only known source of material used for production of highly enriched uranium for North Korea's nuclear weapons program, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a preview of a report to be published next month.

It said that based on activity observed in the March 22 images, the plant is "highly likely to remain active for the foreseeable future."

Object visible at N.K. shipyard linked to new submarine: U.S. monitor

WASHINGTON, May 29 (Yonhap) -- An unidentified object is visible in recent satellite imagery of a North Korean shipyard where construction of a new ballistic missile submarine is under way, a U.S. monitor said Friday.

The linear object is approximately 16 meters long and situated on the quay of the secure boat basin at the Sinpo shipyard on North Korea's east coast, 38 North said, citing May 27 imagery.

"Its purpose is unknown, and there are no vehicles or equipment around it," the monitor said, noting that recent news reports have indicated South Korean intelligence is looking closely at the shipyard for the possible launch of a new ballistic missile submarine.

Ex-USFK commander worries N. Korea will soon launch ballistic missile submarine

WASHINGTON, June 2 (Yonhap) -- A former commander of U.S. Forces Korea expressed worry Tuesday that North Korea will soon launch a new ballistic missile submarine.

Retired Gen. Walter Sharp's remark comes after North Korea's Central Military Commission discussed "new policies" to bolster the country's nuclear deterrence and develop its armed forces.

The May meeting, presided over by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, drew fresh attention to the 3,000-ton submarine under construction, with South Korean military and intelligence officials saying it appears almost ready to be deployed. The submarine is believed to be capable of carrying three ballistic missiles.

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