North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has unveiled an ambitious plan to establish a credible nuclear deterrent, aiming for an arsenal powerful enough to deter any potential adversary, particularly the United States. Experts suggest that Kim has set forth an extensive agenda for weapons modernization, with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) being just one aspect. Other objectives may include launching a military satellite and deploying a nuclear-powered submarine.
The country’s intentions were evident as Kim significantly escalated the frequency and intensity of weapons testing in recent years, with a slight reduction in 2023 but still maintaining considerably higher levels compared to previous years. In 2022, North Korea conducted a record number of missile tests, including the launch of 23 missiles in a single day, placing the world on edge.
These tests have refocused attention on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Kim emphasized the rapid development of his nuclear forces, prompting concerns among the United States and international observers. Satellite imagery revealed heightened activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site, raising speculation about a potential underground nuclear test—the first since 2017.
Joseph Dempsey, a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, anticipates further tests from North Korea. He highlights that the emergent ICBM force of North Korea is still relatively unproven, and additional developmental tests are necessary to validate their reliability and operational effectiveness across various flight parameters.
The international community will closely monitor North Korea’s missile program, expecting further advancements and potential tests as the nation continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions.