Archive for the ‘Nuclear’ Category

How bad is the Kaesong shutdown for the North Korean Economy?

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein 

The Ministry of Unification in Seoul announced today that the industrial park in Kaesong be closed as a form of retaliation for North Korea’s recent rocket launch, alleging that funds from the park have been used to finance the north’s arms buildup. Wall Street Journal (with my emphasis):

A representative of South Korea’s Unification Ministry said that the move to shut down Kaesong was an effort by South Korea, “as a key party, to show leadership in taking part in these moves.”

Kaesong is an important source of income for Pyongyang. The regime received $120 million last year, and a total of $560 million since 2004, in workers’ wages directly from the South Korean side, according to the Unification Ministry. Those payments are made directly to the regime, which is then charged with paying the workers themselves, a system that critics say allows the regime to pocket most of the money.

“It appears that such funds have not been used to pave the way to peace as the international community had hoped, but rather to upgrade its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles,” the Unification Ministry said on Wednesday.

Naturally, this is bad news for the North Korean economy. But how bad exactly?

Here are a few other figures to give some sense of the proportions:

  • The volume of trade between North Korea and China only in the January-May period of last year totalled $1.1 billion, with North Korean exports accounting for $954 million.
  • Between January and November last year, the value of North Korea’s exports to China was $2.28 billion.
  • Textile exports to China from North Korea brought in around $800 million in 2014.
  • North Korean guest workers in China’s border provinces are estimated to be raising between $140-$170 million per year.

In the overall context, it seems like losses from the closure of Kaesong could be potentially bad, but not catastrophic.

UPDATE 1: Here is the full statement from the Ministry of Unification:

Government Statement regarding the Complete Shutdown of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex

North Korea has pushed ahead with the extremely provocative act of launching a long-range missile on the heels of its 4th nuclear test, showing disregard for the repeated warnings of the international community and the suffering of its people.

North Korea’s provocations are a direct challenge to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community and its actions are absolutely unacceptable. Notwithstanding international efforts to deter North Korea from developing its nuclear capabilities and long-range missiles,

North Korea has declared that it would follow up on its recent provocations with additional nuclear tests and missile launches, thereby not even showing the slightest intent to forgo the development of its nuclear and missile capabilities.

The status quo is not static, as North Korea’s nuclear capabilities will be upgraded, all but leading to a catastrophic disaster. If left unattended, North Korea’s nuclear and missile development will lead to a fundamental imbalance in and threat to the security landscape of Northeast Asia, not to mention the Korean Peninsula, and the countries of this region will be left with no choice but to take measures to ensure their own survival and shore up their security, and there are concerns that this could eventually even lead to a nuclear domino effect.

Under these grave circumstances, it is clear that the existing approach will not work in discomfiting North Korea’s nuclear and missile development plans. Accordingly, what is in order is a vigorous response together with the international community that, for sure, exacts a price for North Korea’s misguided actions, as well as extraordinary measures that compel North Korea to give up its nuclear capabilities and change its ways.

At a time when the international community is seeking sanctions in the wake of North Korea’s violation of UN Security Council resolutions with its nuclear test and long-range missile launch, there is a need for Korea, as a key party, to show leadership in taking part in these moves.

Over the years, our Government has been working to continue maintaining the Gaeseong Industrial Complex despite North Korea’s repeated provocations and under extreme state of affairs, all with a view to assisting the lives of the North Korean people, providing impetus to lifting up the North Korean economy, and achieving the shared progress for both South and North Korea. We have also made every effort to move the Gaeseong Industrial Complex forward under the position that it should be developed in conformity with international norms.

However, such assistance and the efforts of our Government have ultimately been wrongly harnessed in the service of upgrading North Korea’s nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

To date, the total amount of cash that flowed into North Korea through the Gaeseong Industrial Complex is 616 billion won (560 million dollars), with 132 billion won (120 million dollars) in cash having flowed into North Korea last year alone, and the Government and the private sector have invested a total of 1.019 trillion won. It appears that such funds have not been used to pave the way to peace as the international community had hoped, but rather to upgrade its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

This tramples on the efforts of the Korean Government and the 124 businesses that have set up shop in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, and puts at risk the lives and safety of the Korean people.

Today, in order to stop funds of the Gaeoseong Industrial Complex from being used to support the development of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities, and to prevent our businesses from suffering, the Government has decided to completely shut down the Gaeseong Industrial Complex.

We have notified the North Korean authorities of this decision and called on them to extend such cooperation as is rendered necessary by the complete shutdown of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, including the safe return of our citizens.

The Government will move expeditiously forward with all steps to ensure the safe return of our citizens, and will set up a Government Task Force under the Office for Government Policy Coordination to provide the necessary whole-of-government assistance to our businesses.

We ask for the full understanding of our people that the Government’s complete shutdown of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex is an unavoidable decision, which takes into account the seriousness of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and we call upon the people to stand with us as we seek to overcome such challenges.

UPDATE 2: Kent Boydston at the Peterson Institute offers this graph, and notes we can expect to see the trend reverse:

DPRK-China-ROK-trade-2015

Full reference to the Wall Street Journal article quoted above:
South Korea, Japan Take Steps to Penalize North Korea
Wall Street Journal 
Jonathan Cheng
02-10-2016

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Hydrogen bomb project may lead state to squeeze traders, some North Koreans worry

Friday, January 8th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

Daily NK today carries a piece where interviewed North Koreans express their annoyance at how the hydrogen bomb test disturbed economic activity, and how it may get worse in the future:

News of the recent test has also angered people, with some openly criticizing the nuclear program and pointing out that money should go into providing for the people instead. “Market vendors don’t care if it’s an atom bomb or a hydrogen bomb. Most of them say they just want to make a lot of money and live a quiet life,” the source said.

A different source in North Pyongan Province reported that most people who watched the announcement out of curiosity were neither surprised nor interested, noting, “But market donju (newly affluent middle class) are worried that having blown up a massive ‘dollar bomb’, Kim Jong Un will now have a gaping hole in his coffers, making things busier for them since they’ll have to offer up more funds.”

“Loyalty funds had swelled because of the greater stability in the markets, so recently there weren’t a lot of purges of donju, but now with all the money that they’ve spent, it looks like donju will be under pressure or persecuted more to make up for the funds that went into the hydrogen bomb test,” he explained.

“After the first three nuclear tests, prominent donju were purged on ‘anti-socialist’ charges and their assets confiscated by the state. The leadership is likely to tighten its grip on donju again to make up for its expenses.”

Read the full article:
Nuclear test draws different set of concerns from North Koreans
Seol Song Ah and Choi Song Min
DailyNK
2016-01-08

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Hydrogen bomb test will give economic boost, North Korean state media says

Friday, January 8th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

Today’s Rodong Sinmun carries an article hailing the (claimed) hydrogen bomb test as a step towards turning North Korea into an economic powerhouse, UPI reports:

Pyongyang’s state-controlled newspaper Rodong Sinmun published an article Friday that exalted North Korea’s military-first policy, stating, “The first successful hydrogen bomb test forcefully demonstrated the power of self-reliant [North Korea], [now] we must boldly struggle to build an economic powerhouse and to enhance the people’s livelihoods.”

North Korea stated the regime’s nuclear power has the capacity to strike “any strong enemy” and “seize absolute control.”

“A path has opened, where we can devote all our energies into building an economic powerhouse,” Pyongyang said in statement.

Read the full article:
North Korea hails hydrogen bomb test as path to economic power
Elizabeth Shim
UPI
2016-01-08

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North Korea’s H-Bomb Test: The (Impossible) Economic Context

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

Who decides what in Pyongyang? Do fierce political battles rage between hardliners and reformers, where the former group struggles to replace nuclear belligerence with liberal market economics and trade? Whenever a purge or suspicious death occurs in Pyongyang, speculations come alive about potential policy changes by the regime.

It is a fool’s errand to make guesses about how North Korea’s claimed (but unlikely) hydrogen bomb test fits into the speculative dichotomy of modernizers versus conservatives. After all, such simple divisions are rare in the political life of any country. But looking at the test in the context of the past year makes it clear that Pyongyang is pursuing a messy mix of policies that are mutually exclusive.

At the same time as one “hand” of the regime attempts to draw foreign investment, diversify its investor base to include other countries than China, and take its industrial zones from plans to reality, the other “hand” is actively working against economic progress by nuclear tests and diplomatic belligerence. Either the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, or it does, but just doesn’t want it to succeed.

Perhaps this is the way that Byungjin – Kim Jong-un’s strategy of parallel development of nuclear weapons and the economy – was intended to work. (If so, the regime seems to be dedicating much more resources and energy to the nuclear part, while the economic one still mostly consists of words.) In any case, Pyongyang is trying to achieve two goals at the same time, and it isn’t working.

For example, in 2013, the North Korean regime announced the creation of over ten special economic zones, with more added in both 2014 and 2015. Progress has been uneven. Still, the North Korean regime has continuously indicated that the zones are a priority and will continue to be improved. Just in November last year, new regulations were announced for the special economic zones. Visitors and analysts report that elite businesses have been doing better and better in North Korea, and that the economic environment has become increasingly freer.

Whatever the list of Pyongyang’s priorities may look like, January 6th was not a good day for those North Koreans tasked with planning, building and administering the country’s special economic zones and projects. North Korea is already an unlikely destination for most foreign investors. Many low-wage competitors already sit relatively close by the country, such as Vietnam and Cambodia. North Korea’s comparative advantages are really quite few. Things are already difficult and the claimed H-bomb test certainly won’t help.

The international sanctions are just one part of the problem. Even with knowledge of what the current sanctions regime permits investors to do, the test is a stark reminder that legal hurdles will keep being added as nuclear and missile tests continue. This should deter any investor without special connections, political motives or a financial death wish. Not to mention the terrible PR and public criticism that would follow any (at least western) company deciding to invest in North Korea.

And then, there is of course the China factor. Sure, Beijing doesn’t comply with sanctions the way it is obligated to do. Moreover, as the Choson Exchange blog points out, North Korean and Chinese businesses tend to find a way to get around the sanctions. Last but not least, to a large extent, Chinese investment and cooperation with North Korea is a regional issue, with much of it driven by the northeastern border regions that depend on trade and exchange with the country.

But this doesn’t mean that Beijing won’t ever take concrete action felt by Pyongyang. China’s worries about North Korea’s nuclear tests are arguably more warranted than those of any other country. Residents in Yanji, a Chinese city on the North Korean border, even felt tremors from the bomb test, and teachers and students were reportedly evacuated from schools near the border. A trend is only a trend until it is no more. At the very least, events like the nuclear test don’t exactly make Chinese officials more prone to want to facilitate economic cooperation and infrastructure investments for North Korea.

It’s almost painful to think of all those hours spent in the North Korean administration, drawing up plans for new economic development zones and projects, new laws for investments and other institutional changes to improve the economy, only to see their colleagues in another part of government work in the opposite direction. If (and this is a big “if”) there are indeed policy factions in the government, with modernizers and conservatives, the latter have scored a victory on January 6th, at the expense of the former.

UPDATE 2015-01-07: James Pearson and Ju-Min Park at Reuters have done a very interesting overview (with Michael Madden of NK Leadership Watch) of the people behind North Korea’s nuclear program. It’s an important illustration of the fact that interest groups are not just a thing of business, but also of politics and ideas. Read it here.

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An Updated Summary of Energy Supply and Demand in the Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea (DPRK)

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

The Nautilus Institute has published a report on energy supply in the DPRK by David F. von Hippel and Peter Hayes. You can read it here.

Here is a small section of the paper:

Overall energy use per capita in the DPRK as of 1990 was relatively high, primarily due to inefficient use of fuels and reliance on coal. Coal is more difficult to use with high efficiency than oil products or gas. Based on our estimates, primary commercial energy[19] use in the DPRK in 1990 was approximately 70 GJ per capita, approximately three times the per capita commercial energy use in China in 1990, and somewhat over 50 percent of the 1990 per capita energy consumption in Japan (where 1990 GDP per-capita was some ten to twenty times higher than the DPRK). This sub-section provides a brief sketch of the DPRK energy sector, and some of its problems. Much more detailed reviews/estimates of energy demand and supply in the DPRK in 1990, 1996, and particularly in 2000, 2005, and 2008 through 2010, are provided in later chapters of this report.

The industrial sector is the largest consumer of all commercial fuels—particularly coal—in the DPRK. The transport sector consumes a substantial fraction of the oil products used in the country. Most transport energy use is for freight transport; the use of personal transport in the DPRK is very limited. The residential sector is a large user of coal and (in rural areas, though more recently, reportedly, in urban and peri-urban areas as well) biomass fuels. The military sector (by our estimates) consumes an important share of the refined oil products used in the country. The public/commercial and services sectors in the DPRK consume much smaller shares of fuels supplies in the DPRK than they do in industrialized countries, due primarily to the minimal development of the commercial sector in North Korea. Wood and crop wastes are used as fuels in the agricultural sector, and probably in some industrial subsectors as well.

Key energy-sector problems in the DPRK include:

*Inefficient and/or decaying infrastructure: Much of the energy-using infrastructure in the DPRK is reportedly (and visibly, to visitors to the country) antiquated and/or poorly maintained. Buildings apparently lack significant, and often any, insulation, and the heating circuits in residential and other buildings for the most part apparently cannot be controlled by residents. Industrial facilities are likewise either aging or based on outdated technology, and often (particularly in recent years) are operated at less-than-optimal capacities (from an energy-efficiency point of view).

*Suppressed and latent demand for energy services: Lack of fuels in many sectors of the DPRK economy has apparently caused demand for energy services to go unmet. Electricity outages are one obvious source of unmet demand, but there are also reports, for example, that portions of the DPRK fishing fleet have been idled for lack of diesel fuel. Residential heating is reportedly restricted in the winter (and some observers report that some public-sector and residential buildings have not received heat at all in recent years) to conserve fuel, resulting in uncomfortably cool inside temperatures.

The problem posed by suppressed and latent demand for energy services is that when and if supply constraints are removed there is likely to be a surge in energy (probably particularly electricity) use, as residents, industries, and other consumers of fuels increase their use of energy services toward desired levels. (This is a further argument, as elaborated later in this report, for making every effort to improve the efficiency of energy use in all sectors of the DPRK economy as restraints on energy supplies are reduced.)

*Lack of energy product markets: Compounding the risk of a surge in the use of energy services is the virtual lack of energy product markets in the DPRK. Without fuel pricing reforms, there will be few incentives for households and other energy users to adopt energy efficiency measures or otherwise control their fuels consumption. Recent years have seen limited attempts by the DPRK government to reform markets for energy products. Some private markets exist for local products like firewood, and some commercial fuels have in recent years reportedly been traded “unofficially” (on the black market), but for the most part, energy commodity markets in the DPRK essentially do not exist[20]. Energy consumers are also unlikely, without a massive and well-coordinated program of education about energy use and energy efficiency, to have the technical know-how to choose and make good use of energy efficiency technologies, even when and if such technologies are made available.

The DPRK’s energy sector needs are vast, and at the same time, as indicated by the only partial listing of problems many of these needs are sufficiently interconnected as to be particularly daunting to address. The DPRK’s energy sector needs include rebuilding/replacement of many of its power generation and almost all of its substation equipment, repair, replacement, and/or improvement of coal mine production equipment and safety systems, updating of oil refineries, improvement or replacement of most if its energy-using equipment, including coal-fired boilers, electric motors and drives, transport systems, and many other items, modernization of energy use throughout the country, rebuilding of the DPRK forest stocks, and a host of other needs. As one example of the interrelations of energy problems in the DPRK, renovating the DPRK’s coal mining sector is made more difficult because coal mines lack electricity due to electricity sector problems, and electricity generators in some cases have insufficient coal to supply power demand because of coal mine problems and problems with transporting coal to power plants.

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China releases document on trade restrictions with DPRK

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

…although I cannot find a copy of it anywhere.  It is probably being sent around in PDF form and only available in Chinese.

According to the New York Times:

In a sign of growing concern about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, China published a long list on Tuesday of equipment and chemical substances to be banned from export to North Korea for fear they could be used in adding to its increasingly sophisticated nuclear weapons programs.

If put into place, the export controls would be some of the strongest steps taken by China, the North’s closest ally, to try to limit the country’s nuclear programs. The announcement indicates that China is now following through on some United Nations Security Council sanctions it approved months ago, according to a noted American arms expert.

The list of banned items was released amid a flurry of reports suggesting that North Korea is accelerating its two nuclear weapons programs. Two weeks ago, new satellite photographs showed that North Korea might be resuming production of plutonium at its newly reconstructed nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. And this week, two American arms experts reported that North Korea appeared to have learned to produce its own crucial components for uranium enrichment.

The move also comes less than a week after China made an unsuccessful attempt to revive talks aimed at persuading the North to give up its nuclear capabilities. The United States continues to resist restarting the talks, which North Korea has used in the past to extract concessions without making long-term changes to its nuclear program.

“The release of the new export control list is a signal China is concerned about the speeding up of weaponization” of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, said Zhu Feng, the deputy director of the Center for International and Strategic Studies at Beijing University, who called the move “very important.” In particular, he said, the Chinese are concerned about resumption of plutonium production at the Yongbyon complex, the centerpiece of North Korea’s nuclear program.

Another Chinese expert on North Korea, who declined to be identified because of his position in the government, said the publication of the list “says that China is increasingly unsatisfied with North Korea’s actions.”

“This is one of the practical actions to show it,” he said.

Both plutonium and highly enriched uranium can be used in nuclear bombs, but analysts say the North’s plutonium program is much further along. At least two of the three bombs the country has tested used plutonium.

China has long resisted punishing North Korea for its nuclear programs, but has appeared increasingly frustrated as the North’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, has appeared to ignore Chinese pleas for moderation. China agreed to the United Nations sanctions after the North conducted a nuclear test this year over Chinese objections.

The North responded to the sanctions with months of nuclear threats against South Korea and the United States, which, analysts say, ended only after China exerted strong pressure, apparently fearful of instability that could harm its economic progress.

David Albright, the American expert who said China was now implementing the United Nations sanctions passed in March, added that the Chinese ban “will help, since North Korea procures so much from China.” Mr. Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, added that China could take additional measures to “dramatically increase the inspection of goods into North Korea by road and rail.”

China has moved before to stop the export of other technologies that could be used in nuclear programs, including missile technology, though it did not single out any countries when it did so.

The items on the list China released Tuesday were called “dual-use technologies” because they can be used for either civilian or military purposes, and they included items that could be used to build more chemical weapons and to make biological weapons.

Banned items include Ebola, a virus that can be used for medical research as well as a biological weapon; nickel powder; radium; flash X-ray generators; and microwave antennas designed to accelerate ions. China’s Commerce Ministry, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the General Administration of Customs, and the Atomic Energy Authority jointly published the list.

In a statement, the Ministry of Commerce said the items in the 236-page document were prohibited from being sent to North Korea because “the dual-use products and technologies delineated in this list have uses in weapons of mass destruction.”

Reuters also adds:

Released by the commerce ministry along with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the China Atomic Energy Authority, the document describes items that could be used to build nuclear and chemical weapons, as well as technology that could build and fuel nuclear reactors.

Yonhap adds:

The ban took effect on Monday (September 23).

Read the full stories here:
China Bans Items for Export to North Korea, Fearing Their Use in Weapons
New York Times
Jane Perlez
2013-9-24

China releases list of goods banned from export to North Korea
Reuters
Megha Rajagopalan
2013-9-23

China issues long list of banned items for exports to N. Korea
Yonhap
2013-9-24

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Concentration on economic construction based on nuclear deterrance

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2013-5-9

The official mouthpiece of the (North) Korean Worker’s Party, Rodong Sinmun, claimed on May 3, 2013 that the key to rapid economic growth was to concentrate on economic construction based on the country’s foundation as a powerful nuclear state and obtaining a powerful nuclear deterrent.

On the same day, it ran an editorial entitled “Our Party Line of Economic Construction and Nuclear Weapons Development Is Permanent”, which claimed that “as demonstrated throughout history, the greatest path to economic construction is developing a reliable nuclear deterrent.”

While this is a restatement of the nuclear weapons development and economic construction plan adopted on March 31 at a plenary session of the Party’s Central Committee, it also indicates that in the future North Korea may focus on capital investment in the economic sector.

The editorial mentioned the importance of developing the nuclear energy industry, uranium resources, and the knowledge and skills of North Korea’s nuclear technicians. It also mentioned that “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il provided us with a robust nuclear energy industry and we possess both inexhaustible supplies of uranium and world-renowned nuclear technicians.” The article also claimed that “the Party’s policy is based on our sovereign right to nuclear power and while developing nuclear weapons, the Party aims to address the issue of insufficient electric power.” This can be seen as an indication that North Korea intends to make use of its nuclear technology in solving its electricity woes.

In respect to the current political situation on the Korean peninsula, the editorial commented, “the current state of affairs in the future is dependent on the attitudes of the enemy that could take a turn toward a nuclear war or appeasement.” It denounced the United States, saying that “whether it adopts a hard line or appeasement policy, its nefarious attitude toward our republic, contriving the collapse of the regime remains unchanged.”

It claimed the only solution to alleviate the tension on the Korean peninsula and to improve relations with the South was through reinforcement of nuclear power and economy which can “ultimately terminate the schemes of the external powers and accelerate our nation’s long-cherished wish of national reunification.”

The principle of self-reliance was named as the imperative strategy to engender major revolution and growth and encouraged “all sectors, ranging from the Workers’ Party to business administration, education, literature and arts, must establish innovative and effective ways that meet the realistic demands of development and overcome schemas and rigidity.”

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Premier Pak Pong-ju attends the first extended cabinet meeting

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2013-5-3

On April 22, for the first time since Premier Pak Pong Ju took office as the new Premier of the DPRK Cabinet, North Korea held an extended cabinet plenary meeting. Cabinet members discussed a variety of topics including the economy, enhancing nuclear capability for military purposes, advancing the party line, the results of the National Light Industry Convention, the first quarter assessment of the People’s Economic Development Plan, and adjustments to be made to the People’s Economic Development Plan during the second quarter.

The meeting has spurred interest in what economic breakthroughs will be made under Premier Pak’s direction. While this was only the first extended meeting held since Premier Pak became premier, there appeared to be no fundamental changes in the party line. The results from the last Politburo extended meeting regarding the National Light Industry Convention and the advancement of the party line in the areas of economics and the nuclear program were mirrored in the cabinet meeting. At the meeting, cabinet members emphasized groundbreaking measures that would contribute to improving the lives of the North Korean people.

At the Light Industry Convention, Kim Jong Un ordered for the normalization of operations of factories that produce consumer goods. As Pak was the official in charge, it is likely that he demanded for specific plans to stabilize production.

At the extended cabinet meeting, measures in response to the international sanctions against the country were also discussed. The KCNA reported the results of the meeting: “Foreign economic business must be strengthened to destroy the blockade of the US imperialists and their followers and put forth tasks and measures to explore favorable conditions to become an economic powerhouse.”

In order to avoid the sanctions of the international community, North Korea must continue foreign trade with China and other countries, as covertly as possible.

With respect to the contents of the meeting, Minju Choson, the state-run North Korean government newspaper, reported that “specific plans were discussed to expand the fuel production and restart Yongbyon GMR (graphite moderated reactor), and educational programs for nuclear experts.” In addition, plans for the development of practical and communications satellite were established and reaffirmed in order to continue the launch of long-range ballistic missiles.

North Korea’s long-range missiles, restart of the Yongbyon nuclear facility, and uranium exploration are under the control of the Second Economic Commission, military defense (military economy affairs), not the Cabinet. The Second Economic Committeeis the central coordinating body of the DPRK’s military-defense industry. Yet, the cabinet declared its decision to continue nuclear and missile launches at the cabinet meeting. This would suggest that the cabinet is supportive of Kim Jong Un’s “byungjin line,” or policy of pushing forwarding economic construction and the building of a nuclear force.

Expectations that cabinet reform would be mentioned did not come to fruition. There is a probability that Premier Pak is preparing to implement in earnest the ‘6-28 Economic Management Improvement Policy’ which has been in the works internally since last year.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, since delivering the New Year’s Address last January, has promoted Premier Pak as the leader most qualified to execute plans to make North Korea an economic power. However, it is unclear whether Premier Pak will be able to meet such a challenge given the limited reforms in progress and the deterioration of the external situation. On the other hand, Premier Pak chose a cooperative farm for his first site visit which suggests that the North Korean cabinet may concentrate on agricultural sector this year.

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North Korea Boasts Economic Construction Enabled as a Nuclear State

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2013-4-11

Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party declared that North Korea has secured its position as a nuclear state, advancing the nation to concentrate on the economic construction, in an editorial last Friday.

This can be interpreted as North Korea’s intent to place more emphasis on investments towards economic development now that it has “made advancement in nuclear weapons capabilities to respond to any threats from the United States and South Korea.”

The editorial stated, “The tremendous mental and material potentials provided by the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the socialist system of Juche based on collectivism and rich experience made in the effort to build an economic power are precious assets for making a great leaping progress in economic construction.”

This is in line with last month’s plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee that reiterated the importance of parallel policy of economic construction and nuclear power to compete against the United States.

At the meeting, parallel policy of economy and defense were acclaimed to be superior in its war deterrence and defense capabilities without increasing the defense budget to provide support for economic construction and improve the lives of the people. In addition, agricultural and light industries were named as key sectors and called for improvements in the production of everyday goods for the people and reach the grain production target for this year.

On the other hand, Finance minister Choe Kwang Jin reported at the meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly on April 1 that 44.8 percent of the national budget was allocated for economic development and improvement of its citizen’s lives.

In addition, the news reported that 38.9 percent of the total expenditures were shifted to social cultural and people policies to implement free compulsory education, healthcare, social insurance and social security systems and secure the development of arts, literature and sports.

The minister added that the rest of the budget was allocated for national defense but no specific amount of defense budget was disclosed.

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2013 plenary meeting of WPK Central Committee and 7th session of Supreme People’s Assembly

Monday, April 1st, 2013

On March 31, KCNA reported on the recent plenary meeting of the Korean Worker’s Party:

The historic March, 2013 plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea took place at the building of the WPK Central Committee, supreme staff of the Korean revolution, on Sunday.

First Secretary of the WPK Kim Jong Un guided the meeting.

Present at the meeting were members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee and members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK.

Present there as observers were senior officials of ministries, national institutions, provincial, city and county committees of the WPK, complexes, major munitions factories and enterprises.

The participants paid silent tribute to President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il.

Taken up for discussion at the meeting were the following agenda items “1. On tasks of our Party on bringing about a decisive turn in accomplishing revolutionary cause of Juche as required by the present situation and the developing revolution”, “2. On personnel affairs issue to be submitted to the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly” and “3. On organizational matter”.

Kim Jong Un made a report and concluding speech on the first agenda item.

The plenary meeting set forth a new strategic line on carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously under the prevailing situation and to meet the legitimate requirement of the developing revolution.

This line is a brilliant succession and development onto a new higher stage of the original line of simultaneously developing economy and national defence that was set forth and had been fully embodied by the great Generalissimos.

It was stressed at the meeting that the party’s new line is not a temporary countermeasure for coping with the rapidly changing situation but a strategic line to be always held fast to, in the supreme interests of the Korean revolution.

The nuclear weapons of Songun Korea are not goods for getting U.S. dollars and they are neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings to be presented to the place of dialogue or be put on the table of negotiations aimed at forcing the DPRK to disarm itself.

The DPRK’s nuclear armed forces represent the nation’s life which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth. They are a treasure of a reunified country which can never be traded with billions of dollars.

Only when the nuclear shield for self-defence is held fast, will it be possible to shatter the U.S. imperialists’ ambition for annexing the Korean Peninsula by force and making the Korean people modern slaves, firmly defend our ideology, social system and all other socialist treasures won at the cost of blood and safeguard the nation’s right to existence and its time-honored history and brilliant culture.

When the party’s new line is thoroughly carried out, the DPRK will emerge as a great political, military and socialist economic power and a highly-civilized country which steers the era of independence.

The meeting set forth tasks for carrying out the new line and ways for doing so.

All the officials, party members and other people should wage bold offensive and all-people decisive battle with faith in sure victory and strong determination and thus make the flame of miracle and innovation sweep all fields of national economy.

The pilot fields of the national economy, the basic industrial fields should be drastically developed and production be increased to the maximum. Forces should be directed to agriculture and light industry, key fields in building an economic power to improve and put on a stable basis the people’s living standard at the earliest possible date.

The self-reliant nuclear power industry should be developed and the work for developing light water reactor be dynamically promoted to actively contribute to easing the strain on the electricity problem of the country.

Spurs should be given to the development of space science and technology and more advanced satellites including communications satellites be developed and launched.

The country’s economy should be shifted into knowledge-based economy and the foreign trade be made multilateral and diversified and investment be widely introduced.

The economic guidance shall be fundamentally improved as required by the new situation and Korean-style advantageous economic management methods be completed by embodying the Juche idea.

The DPRK’s possession of nukes should be fixed by law and the nuclear armed forces should be expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively until the denuclearization of the world is realized.

The People’s Army should perfect the war method and operation in the direction of raising the pivotal role of the nuclear armed forces in all aspects concerning the war deterrence and the war strategy, and the nuclear armed forces should always round off the combat posture.

As a responsible nuclear weapons state, the DPRK will make positive efforts to prevent the nuclear proliferation, ensure peace and security in Asia and the rest of the world and realize the denuclearization of the world.

Institutions in charge of security and safeguard, judicial and prosecution and people’s security and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces should resolutely foil the vicious moves of the imperialist reactionaries and class enemies, devotedly defend the party, social system and people and surely guarantee the new line of the party with arms and by law.

The party and working people’s organizations and power bodies should increase their militant function and role in every way in the struggle for implementing the party’s line.

The meeting entrusted the Presidium of the SPA and the Cabinet with the matters of taking legal, administrative and technical measures for implementing the tasks.

At the meeting a decision on the first agenda item “On carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously and thus bringing earlier the final victory in the cause of building a thriving socialist nation” was adopted with unanimous approval.

The second agenda item, personal affairs issue to be submitted to the 7th Session of the 12th SPA, was discussed and decided at the meeting.

The meeting also dealt with an organizational matter, its third agenda item.

Members of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee, members and alternate members of the Political Bureau were recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.

Pak Pong Ju was elected to fill a vacancy of a member of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee.

Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyok Sik and Choe Pu Il were elected to fill vacancies of alternate members of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee.

Members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee were recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.

Upon authorization of Kim Jong Un, Paek Kye Ryong was appointed as director of the Light Industrial Department of the WPK Central Committee and Yun U Chol as editor-in-chief of Rodong Sinmun, organ of the WPK Central Committee.

Members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK were also recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.

Here is a video of Kim Jong-un’s speech:

Here is a transcript of the speech in English.

The strategy of pursuing both economic development and nuclear power was highlighted in both the DPRK and international media: Pyongyang Times, Joong Ang Ilbo, New York Times, Yonhap, Choson Ilbo.

Here is analysis from IFES:

Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Stresses Development of Agricultural, Light, and Nuclear Industries
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2013-4-4

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on March 31 that a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea was held. At the meeting, a new strategic line was announced to have been set, which called for building a stronger economy and nuclear arsenal. This meeting is drawing attention as it is suspected that Pyongyang will pursue a new economic policy.

The news described the new strategic line as, “most revolutionary and people oriented policy for the construction of a powerful socialist nation by consolidating defense capacity through development of defensive nuclear weapons and economic construction.”

It stressed that this policy is significant as a “creative and parallel policy for defense and economy continuing the policies of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, which must be adopted as a permanent strategy.”

At the plenary meeting, the main agendas for the parallel policy of economy and defense were announced as: 1) Improvement of the production of people’s economy and capacity enhancement for agricultural and light industries to stabilize prices to improve the lives of the people; 2) development of self-reliant nuclear power industry and light water reactors; 3) development and launch of more satellites including communication satellites through advancement in space science and technology; 4) transition to knowledge economy and diversification of foreign trade to vitalize foreign investments; and 5) establish legislation to be recognized as a nuclear state and develop nuclear arsenal both in quantity and quality until denuclearization is realized worldwide.

At the plenary, the new parallel policy was commended, “The supremacy of the policy is demonstrated by expanding capability in war deterrence and national defense without increasing defense budget and enabled concentration on economic development and improvement of the lives of the people.”

The statement released by the KCNA stated that the plenary meeting’s emphasis on transition to knowledge economy and diversification of foreign trade as the main tasks and appears to be pursuing a “fundamental improvement in economic leadership.”

In addition, the plenary assigned the presidium of the Supreme Peoples’ Assembly and the Cabinet to serve as the economic control tower to oversee the future projects decided at the plenary meeting.

North Korea is continuing to place emphasis on light and agricultural industries. The Kim Jong Un regime entered its second year. The leader was reported to have attended the light industry conference, which was held for the first time in ten years and underscored the importance of concentrating on development of the capacity of light industry.

The new Korean line, 병진 (Pyongjin, Byungjin) is the simultaneous development of nuclear weapons and the economy. Learn more about it here.

Following the central committee plenary meeting, the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly was held. According to KCNA:

The Seventh Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK took place at the Mansudae Assembly Hall Monday.

Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, was present at the session.

Present there were deputies to the SPA.

Also present there as observers were officials of party, armed forces and power bodies, public organizations, ministries and national institutions and those in the fields of science, education, literature and art, public health and media.

All the participants observed a moment’s silence in memory of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il in humblest reverence.

The session decided the following agenda items of the Seventh Session of the 12th SPA of the DPRK:

1. On amending and supplementing some contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK

2. On adopting the DPRK Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun

3. On adopting the ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK “On Consolidating the Position of Nuclear Weapons State for Self-Defence”

4. On adopting the DPRK Law on Developing Space

5. On adopting the decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Setting up the DPRK State Space Development Bureau”

6. On the work of the DPRK Cabinet for Juche 101 (2012) and its tasks for Juche 102 (2013)

7. On the review of the fulfillment of the DPRK’s state budget for Juche 101 (2012) and state budget for Juche 102 (2013)

8. Organizational matter

The session discussed the first and second agenda items.

Deputy Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA, made a report on amendment and supplement to some contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and on adopting the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

Then followed speeches on the first and second agenda items.

Deputy Kim Ki Nam, secretary of the WPK Central Committee, spoke on behalf of the WPK, Deputy Choe Ryong Hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA, on behalf of the KPA and Deputy Jon Yong Nam, chairman of the C.C., the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, on behalf of the youth.

The speakers fully supported and approved of deliberation and adoption of the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at the current SPA session reflecting the unanimous feelings of all party members, service personnel and youth across the country.

The ordinances of the SPA of the DPRK “On Amending and Supplementing Some Contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK” and “On Adopting the DPRK Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.

The session discussed the third, fourth and fifth agenda items.

The ordinances of the SPA of the DPRK “On Consolidating the Position of Nuclear Weapons State for Self-Defence” and “On Adopting the DPRK Law on Developing Space” and the decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Setting Up the DPRK State Space Development Bureau” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.

Deputy Choe Yong Rim, premier of the Cabinet, made a report on the sixth agenda item.

Deputy Choe Kwang Jin, minister of Finance, made a report on the seventh agenda item.

Then followed speeches on the sixth and seventh agenda items. Written speeches were presented at the session.

The speakers noted that the Cabinet work and the fulfillment of the state budget for last year were correctly reviewed and summed up, clear tasks of the Cabinet were set forth to meet the requirements of the general offensive to open an epochal phase in building an economic power at the final stage of the all-out action against the U.S. and the state budget was correctly shaped. They expressed full support and approval of them.

They expressed their determination to reenergize the overall economy of the country, step up the grand advance for improving the standard of people’s living to make loud shouts of hurrah for the Workers’ Party and socialism heard this year marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War, true to the historic New Year Address of Kim Jong Un and the decision of the March, 2013 plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee.

The decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Approval of the Report on the Work of the DPRK Cabinet and the Review of the Fulfillment of the State Budget for Juche 101 (2012)” and the ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK “On the DPRK’s State Budget for Juche 102 (2013)” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.

The session discussed the organizational matter.

At the session Deputy Choe Yong Rim was recalled from the post of premier of the DPRK Cabinet and Deputy Pak Pong Ju was elected premier of the DPRK Cabinet at the proposal of the WPK Central Committee.

Choe Yong Rim was elected honorary vice-president of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA.

Deputies Kim Jong Gak and Ri Myong Su were recalled from the posts of member of the DPRK National Defence Commission (NDC) due to the transfer to other jobs.

Deputies Kim Kyok Sik and Choe Pu Il were elected members of the DPRK NDC to fill vacancies at the proposal of the WPK Central Committee and the WPK Central Military Commission.

Deputy Thae Hyong Chol was recalled from the post of secretary general of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA and Deputy Hong Son Ok was elected secretary general of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA.

Some members of the Cabinet were relieved of their posts and appointed at the session.

Deputy Pak Pong Ju, premier of the DPRK Cabinet, took an oath at the SPA.

Michael Madden does a great job summarizing the personnel changes made at the party and SPA in this 38 North piece.

The elevation of Pak Pong-ju received much attention in the west: Daily NK, Washington Post, Yonhap, Reuters,

KCNA also issued several reports that stemmed from the SPA meeting:

Report on Adopting Draft Amendment and Supplement to Socialist Constitution and Law on Kumsusan Palace of Sun

Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, made a report on adopting the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

According to the report, the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to be submitted to the session for discussion will legalize the plan and intention of the Workers’ Party of Korea to fix by law the shining achievements made in accomplishing the cause of perpetuating the memory of the leaders and complete it on a new higher stage.

To be supplemented to the preface of the Socialist Constitution is the sentence which says that the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state is a grand edifice for the immortality of the leaders, a symbol of the dignity of the whole Korean nation and its eternal sacred temple.

The law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun specifies that its noble mission is to preserve and glorify forever the palace, which is the supreme temple of Juche, as the eternal temple of the sun of the entire Korean nation.

The law stipulates that Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il will be held in high esteem forever as in their lifetime at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and that it is the obligation of all the Koreans to regard the Palace as a symbol of dignity and a great pride of the nation.

It also specifies the state duty to spruce up the Palace in a sublime and perfect way with the state, all-people and nationwide efforts and devotedly safeguard the Palace in every way so that no one can violate.

Also stipulated in the law are matters for carrying out the work of eternally preserving the Palace as the most important state work with consistency, organizing the committee for the eternal preservation of the Palace and preserving for photos, train coaches, cars, boat and other relics and orders which represent the noble lives of the great Generalissimos.

Orders were also set so that Korean people, overseas Koreans and foreigners can pay respects to the great Generalissimos at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

Also mentioned in the law are the matters of establishment of special sanctuary of the Palace for its protection and management as well as the management of buildings in the premise of the palace, park, arboretum, outdoor lighting and lighting facilities and orders concerning the operation of the plaza and the park of the Palace.

It was specified in the law that electricity, facilities, materials and other supplies needed for the Palace shall be planned separately and be provided without fail on a top priority basis. The law also set the duty to be fulfilled by relevant institutions to strictly supervise and control on a regular basis the work for safeguarding, eternally preserving and providing the conditions for the management and operation of the Palace.

The reporter said that the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is the unique code for the immortality of the leaders, adding that it is the biggest honor for the army and people of the DPRK to have the legal weapon for the immortality of the leaders.

The adoption of the law will serve as a historic occasion for defending and further glorifying the idea on perpetuating the memory of the leaders clarified by the dear respected Kim Jong Un, he stressed.

The reporter said that the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK submits the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution and the draft law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to the SPA session for discussion according to Article 95 of the Socialist Constitution.

And…

DPRK’s Law on Kumsusan Palace of Sun Adopted

Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The DPRK’s Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun was adopted.

The ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on it was promulgated Monday.

The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state is the
eternal temple of the sun of the whole Korean nation.

The ordinance says that the SPA decides to adopt this law to eternally preserve and glorify forever the
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun as a grand edifice for the immortality of the leaders symbolic of Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s Korea.

And…

Law on Consolidating Position of Nuclear Weapons State Adopted

Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — A law on consolidating the position of nuclear weapons state for self-defence was adopted in the DPRK.

An ordinance of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK in this regard was promulgated on Monday.

The ordinance said as follows:

The DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear weapons state capable of beating back any aggressor troops at one strike, firmly defending the socialist system and providing a sure guarantee for the happy life of the people.

Having an independent and just nuclear force, the DPRK put an end to the distress-torn history in which it was subject to outside forces’ aggression and interference and could emerge a socialist power of Juche which no one dares provoke.

The Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK decides to consolidate the position of the nuclear weapons state as follows:

1. The nuclear weapons of the DPRK are just means for defence as it was compelled to have access to them to cope with the ever-escalating hostile policy of the U.S. and nuclear threat.

2. They serve the purpose of deterring and repelling the aggression and attack of the enemy against the DPRK and dealing deadly retaliatory blows at the strongholds of aggression until the world is denuclearized.

3. The DPRK shall take practical steps to bolster up the nuclear deterrence and nuclear retaliatory strike power both in quality and quantity to cope with the gravity of the escalating danger of the hostile forces’ aggression and attack.

4. The nuclear weapons of the DPRK can be used only by a final order of the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army to repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear weapons state and make retaliatory strikes.

5. The DPRK shall neither use nukes against the non-nuclear states nor threaten them with those weapons unless they join a hostile nuclear weapons state in its invasion and attack on the DPRK.

6. The DPRK shall strictly observe the rules on safekeeping and management of nukes and ensuring the stability of nuclear tests.

7. The DPRK shall establish a mechanism and order for their safekeeping and management so that nukes and their technology, weapon-grade nuclear substance may not leak out illegally.

8. The DPRK shall cooperate in the international efforts for nuclear non-proliferation and safe management of nuclear substance on the principle of mutual respect and equality, depending on the improvement of relations with hostile nuclear weapons states.

9. The DPRK shall strive hard to defuse the danger of a nuclear war and finally build a world without nukes and fully support the international efforts for nuclear disarmament against nuclear arms race.

10. The related institutions shall take thorough practical steps for implementing this ordinance.

And…

DPRK Law on Developing Space Adopted

Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The Law on Developing Space was adopted in the DPRK.

The ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on it was promulgated Monday.

And…

DPRK SPA Decides to Set Up State Space Development Bureau

Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The DPRK decided to set up the State Space Development Bureau.

The decision of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK promulgated on Monday said:

The DPRK is a full-fledged satellite manufacturer and launcher.

It is an invariable stand of the DPRK to develop the country into a world-class space power by exercising its legitimate right to space development for peaceful purposes.

To step up economic construction and improve the people’s standard of living by radically developing the space science and technology of the country and guide and manage all the space activities of the DPRK in a uniform way, the SPA decides as follows:

1. The DPRK State Space Development Bureau shall be set up.

2. The bureau is a state central institution which guides and manages the supervision and control over the working out of a space development program and its implementation and space development work in a uniform way.

3. The Cabinet of the DPRK and other institutions concerned shall take practical measures to implement this decision.

And…

Work of Cabinet for Last Year and Tasks for This Year

Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — At the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly held on Monday, Deputy and Premier Choe Yong Rim made a report on the last year’s work of the DPRK Cabinet and this year’s tasks.

According to the report, last year electricity and coal production and the volume of railway freight transport increased amid the endeavors to shore up the four pilot fields of the national economy. Increase was also made in the production of a variety of industrial goods, the report said, and went on:

The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun was remodeled to be the supreme temple of Juche, the National Gifts Exhibition House, Pyongyang Folklore Park, Changjon Street, Rungna People’s Pleasure Park and other big edifices in the era of Songun have been built.

Big industrial projects such as the Huichon Power Station, Tanchon Port, Taedonggang Building Materials Factory were completed and technological updating and modernization of major factories and enterprises in the field of metal, machine, chemical and light industries have been pushed forward, consolidating the material and technological foundation of the national economy.

Satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 was successfully manufactured and launched and the third underground nuclear test by the use of smaller and lighter A-bomb of great explosive power was successfully conducted.

The bases for the production of cutting-edge technical goods were built and projects for the development of science and technology have been successfully carried out and the modernization of the information and communications field have been stepped up.

A law on the enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education was promulgated. This paved a wide avenue for consolidating the socialist education system and raising the quality of education.

In the field of health care, a telemedicine service has been successfully introduced. The DPRK’s players glorified the honor of the country at major international sports events including the 30th Olympic Games and other signal achievements were made in the field of cultural construction.

The reporter said that this year’s tasks are to realize at an early date the lifetime desire of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il, who devoted their whole lives to putting the country’s economy on the level of a prosperous and powerful country and to making the people live with no more to desire in the world.

According to the report, this year the Cabinet will organize the economic work with a main emphasis on solving issues arising in the people’s living by shoring up the pilot fields, the basic industrial field, consolidating the springboard for building an economic power and concentrating all efforts on agriculture and light industry while regarding coal industry and metal industry as key fields.

It is necessary to increase the production of coal.

Technological updating and modernization of iron works and steel works will be stepped up while improving the bases for the production of Juche iron which have already been built in the field of metal industry. Strict measures for supplying raw materials and fuel should be taken to increase the production of rolled steel more than 3.5 times as compared with last year and thus meet the need for steel.

The field of railway transport will ease strain on transport by consolidating the material and technical foundation of railways.

The grain production plan for this year should be carried out without condition.

The whole country should make efforts for the reclamation of Sepho Tideland and the construction of stock-breeding bases and thus complete the creation of grassland within this year.

The production should be put at a high rate at major chemical factories and the percentage of locally available raw materials should be significantly increased. The production at mines, factories and enterprises in Tanchon area should be increased and exports be boosted to ensure in a responsible manner funds for improving the people’s living standard.

Big efforts should be directed to the construction of dwelling houses. Wonsan area should turn into a world-level resort and tourist destination and living environment and conditions be improved in provinces, cities and counties.

The state investment in the field of science and technology should be increased and the flame of industrial revolution in the new century be raised so as to bring about a decisive turn in building an economic power by dint of science and technology.

Ultra-modern technological goods of high competitiveness should be massively researched and developed. Scientific and technological issues arising in the technological updating and modernization of the national economy should be satisfactorily solved.

The state investment will be increased in education and the preparations for enforcing the universal 12-year compulsory education system be rounded off within this year and fresh progress be made in education, public health, literature, arts, sports and all other fields of cultural construction.

All the fields and units of the national economy should build under a long-term plan export bases for producing second-stage and third-stage processed goods and finished goods of high competitiveness at international markets by relying on locally available resources and indigenous technology. Latest scientific and technological achievements should be positively introduced to increase the varieties of exports and remarkably raise their quality.

Trade should be made diversified and multilateral while conducting a variety of trade activities. The joint venture and collaboration should be actively promoted and the work for setting up economic development zones be pushed forward.

And…

Review of Fulfillment of State Budget for Last Year and State Budget for This Year

Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — Deputy Choe Kwang Jin, minister of Finance, made a report on the review of the fulfillment of state budget for last year and the state budget for this year at the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly held on Monday.

According to the report, the state budgetary revenue last year was over-fulfilled by 1.3 percent, an increase of 10.1 percent over the previous year.

The plan for local budgetary revenue was carried out at 113.8 percent.

The state budgetary expenditure was implemented at 99.6 percent, an increase of 9.7 percent over that in the previous year.

44.8 percent of the total state budgetary expenditure for the economic development and improvement of people’s living standard was used for funding the building of edifices to be presented to the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung, the consolidation of the material and technological foundation of Juche-based, modern and self-supporting economy and the work for face-lifting the country.

38.9 percent of total expenditure was spent for enforcing popular policies and measures for social culture under socialism such as the universal free compulsory education system, free healthcare, social insurance and social security, recuperation and relaxation systems as well as those for development of literature and art and building of a sports power.

Some of the total state budgetary expenditure went to national defence.

According to the report, this year’s state budgetary revenue and expenditure have been shaped in such a way as keeping the overall economy afloat and bringing about a decisive turn in stabilizing and improving the standard of people’s living.

The state budgetary revenue is expected to increase 4.1 percent over that last year.

Out of this, the transaction tax, main source of budgetary revenue, is expected to grow 3.5 percent, the revenue from the profits of state enterprises 6 percent, revenue from the profits of cooperative enterprises 5.3 percent, the revenue from the depreciation 2.8 percent and revenue from real estate rent 3.4 percent.

In the total state budgetary revenue, national budgetary revenue will account for 83 percent and local budgetary revenue 17 percent.

Provinces, cities and counties are envisaged to ensure expenditure with local import and put a huge amount of fund into national budget.

The state budgetary expenditure is expected to grow 5.9 percent over last year.

It was decided to increase expenditure in the field of coal, electricity, metal and railway transport 7.2 percent, the field of agriculture and light industry 5.1 percent, basic investment in capital construction and big overhaul 5.8 percent, the field of science and technology 6.7 percent, the field of education 6.8 percent, the field of public health 5.4 percent, the field of social insurance and security 3.7 percent, the field of sports 6.1 percent and the field of culture 2.2 percent.

Some of the total state budgetary expenditure will go for national defence.

A large amount of educational aid fund and stipends will be sent for the education of Korean children in Japan to promote the development of the democratic national education of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

The reporter called for working hard to glorify this significant year marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as a year of gigantic creation and innovations, in hearty response to the historic New Year Address by Kim Jong Un and the decision made at the March, 2013 plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee.

Here is what Yonhap had to say about the DPRK’s defense budget:

North Korea is expected to spend 16 percent of its budget on national defense in 2013, up 0.2 percentage point from the year before, the country’s state media said Tuesday.

According to the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, Finance Minister Choe Kwang-jin reported to a meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang on Monday that the money is needed to effectively cope with “indiscriminate” provocations by the United States and its followers.

The paper, however, did not disclose the exact size of the defense budget, although South Korea’s unification ministry speculated that last year’s military budget totaled US$910 million.

The proportion of the spending plan compared to the overall budget, is the highest tallied since 1998, according to South Korean analysts.

From 1998 through 2002, the North is estimated to have spent 14.4 percent to 14.5 percent of its annual budget on defense, with numbers going up and being fixed at 15.8 percent in the 2007-2012 period, they said.

Additional information:
1. Here and here is KCTV footage of the SPA meeting.

2. Here is a link to all the info for the 6th session of the SPA. It contains links to sessions 1-5 as well.

3. On 5.31 news of economic adjustment measures announced during the meetings was published.

4. The Choson Ilbo and Yonhap report on the new cabinet members.

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