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North Korea set for modest increase in defence spending

Janes Defence Budgets estimates a marginal increase in North Korea's defence spending in 2024. (Janes Defence Budgets)

North Korea said on 16 January that it expects to spend 15.9% of total government expenditure in 2024 on defence. The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) did not provide a monetary figure, but the proportion is the same as in recent years.

In 2023 Janes tracked North Korea's defence budget at about USD1.47 billion. Janes estimates that the new allocation represents a small increase but spending power in the isolated country remains limited due to challenging economic constraints including inflation.

KCNA said the national budget for 2024 was presented to the 10th Session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang. Citing a speech by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, KCNA said the proposed defence budget will support Pyongyang's five-year plan to develop ‘defence science and weapon systems'.

This plan – announced in January 2021 – focuses on progressing military capabilities including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), solid fuel ballistic missiles, warheads for hypersonic missiles, nuclear submarines, and reconnaissance satellites.

“In order to successfully carry out the major tasks of the country's five-year plan for the development of national defence science and weapons system development and to cope with any threats and challenges from our enemies, we have predicted a defence budget equivalent to 15.9% of the total national budget expenditure,” KCNA said.

The defence budget was announced two days after North Korea test-fired a claimed solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) tipped with a hypersonic warhead.

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