August 31, 2021

Online Shopping for Nukes? Tune Into a North Korean Military Parade.

By Jason Bartlett

North Korea’s broadcasting of national military parades is about more than just flaunting its evasion of U.S. and U.N. sanctions aimed at stifling the development of its nuclear weapons program. While analyses of the sociopolitical implications of these parades often cite the correlation between nuclear power and the survival of the Kim regime, the ostentatious display of lethal weapons in massive military parades serves both a political and financial purpose: to demonstrate military might to enemies and entice potential buyers overseas.

Given the highly sensitive nature of its nuclear program, Pyongyang may refrain from strutting its most novel lethal weapons technology on a televised stage, but it does not shy away from dropping hints at its progress. For example, North Korea showcased a massive intercontinental ballistic missile and a new submarine-launched ballistic missile during a national military parade in Pyongyang days before U.S. President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021.

The ostentatious display of lethal weapons in massive military parades serves both a political and financial purpose: to demonstrate military might to enemies and entice potential buyers overseas.

While most concerns around Pyongyang developing lethal weapons center on a potential armed conflict between North Korea and the United States or South Korea, less discussion is spent on whether Pyongyang is selling these weapons to other rogue states or violent extremist groups already engaged in armed conflict with the United States and its allies abroad. North Korea has a well-documented track record of providing weapons technology to U.S. adversaries such as Iran and Syria. In 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released a statement highlighting concerns regarding joint long-range missile development projects between Pyongyang and Tehran, which the United Nations later echoed in its March 2021 Panel of Experts report on North Korea. The U.N. report also mentioned its ongoing investigation following claims of North Korea offering arms deals and military training programs to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Venezuela, Yemen, and other countries. Another manifestation of this threat to international security was North Korea providing Syria with the technology, resources, and manpower to develop a nuclear reactor in 2007, as well as allegedly providing the Assad regime with necessary materials to create chemical weapons.

Read the full article from The Diplomat.

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