Kim Jong-un Government Spends $650 Million On a Year-Long Series of North Korean Missile Tests

Kim Jong-un Government Spends $650 Million On a Year-Long Series of North Korean Missile Tests
Kim Jong-un Government Spends $650 Million On a Year-Long Series of North Korean Missile Tests

International Military - Kim Jong-un's ruling regime in North Korea has spent up to $650 million on missile tests so far this year. This amount is actually enough money to pay for COVID-19 vaccinations for the entire population of this poor country.

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The estimate is a calculation from the Korea Institute of Defense Analysis, a think tank affiliated with the South Korean government. The group detailed it in a report published Thursday.

Pyongyang has carried out a record-breaking 18 weapons tests this year and has continued to launch missiles even after confirming its first case of COVID-19 infection in May, with more than 4 million cases now reported by authorities as "fever".

The think tank's report said Kim Jong-un's regime spent between $400 million and $650 million developing and testing 33 missiles fired so far this year.

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"The money will make it possible to make up for this year's food shortages, or provide a single dose of COVID-19 vaccination for all North Koreans," the report said.

North Korea is struggling with chronic food shortages, which have been exacerbated by a years-long self-imposed coronavirus blockade, coupled with international sanctions over its weapons program.

Despite state media reports claiming COVID-19 is under control, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned last week that it assumed the situation was getting worse not better.

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Experts say the outbreak could trigger a major health crisis in the country, which has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world. North Korea reported its first case of omicron on May 12 and the virus has since ripped apart a population of 25 million unvaccinated, with state media confirming more than 4.3 million cases of "fever" in total as of Thursday.

"As required by the maximum emergency anti-epidemic system, we demand that all staff strictly adhere to anti-pandemic rules and regulations," sanitation official Kim Hye Kyong told AFP in Pyongyang on Thursday, as hazmat-clad workers sprayed under a trolley bus. Early in the pandemic, Pyongyang repeatedly turned down offers of a COVID-19 vaccine, including from the WHO, and has recently ignored offers of new medical assistance from Seoul and Washington.

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Pyongyang's state media, which usually reports on successful weapons tests 24 hours later, has not reported on the country's recent missile launches. "This means most North Koreans will know very little about how many resources their government has blown into the sea," said Sokeel Park, South Korean country director for Liberty in North Korea.

"North Koreans don't know about military spending even as they deal with the pandemic, the shortfall from two years of lockdown, and skyrocketing drug prices," he said.

US and South Korean officials have also been warning for weeks that Kim Jong-un's regime is preparing to carry out a new nuclear test. Wendy Sherman, the US deputy secretary of state, on Tuesday said there would be a "quick and strong" response if Pyongyang went ahead with its seventh nuclear test.

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