DoD report says North Korea is a critical security threat

A new report delivered to Congress by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday named North Korea as one of the most critical security threats in Northeast Asia in regard to their military development.

The report, titled "Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People's Republic of Korea 2012," is produced annually and describes North Korea's current and future military capability. North Korea has the fourth largest military in the world and is equipped with ground, naval, air, missiles and special operation forces.

North Korea and South Korea have been at odds for years and the alliance the U.S. has with South Korea has kept a number of nuclear attacks on the region at bay, the report speculated. North Korea currently has ballistic missiles that can reach South Korea and Japan, and are developing stronger missiles with further reach, which the report said are intended to strike the U.S. homeland.

"These advances in ballistic missile delivery systems, coupled with developments in nuclear technology, are in line with North Korea's stated objectives to strike the U.S. homeland," the report said.

The report said North Korea's aim is to be recognized as a world player. It continually invests in nuclear infrastructure, intelligence technology and is one of the largest exporters of weapons, but Hagel's report states the country has a weakness.

"The regime's greatest security concern is opposition from within and outside forces taking advantage of internal instability to topple the regime and achieve unification of the Korean Peninsula," the report said.

As concerns have continued to rise about North Korea's proliferation, the international community has begun taking actions to stop its exports. South Korea and South Africa confiscated North Korean cargo ships full of assault weapons within the last few years. The U.S. Navy also stopped a North Korean cargo ship from potentially delivering weapons to another nation after it refused to undergo an inspection.

"The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korea's continued provocations and steadfast in commitments to allies in the region, including the security provided by extended deterrence commitments through the nuclear umbrella and conventional forces," the report said.

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