October 9, 2008: North Koreas economy has been in decline for
nearly two decades, but it has still managed to scrape together some money to
purchase foreign military equipment and weapons. Not much, though. South Korean
intelligence believes that North Korea has only spent $65 million over the last
five years for this. In addition, China has given them some second hand trucks
and military uniforms (China is equipping its troops with uniforms of a new
design.) South Korea imports more than twenty times as much foreign military
equipment, and produces most of its own weapons.
North Korea has extensive weapons
production of its own, but mainly for small arms, mortars and some artillery.
Warship construction is limited to very small submarines and patrol boats.
Warplanes are imported. There is some production of ammunition. North Koreas
military plants have reduced production over the last decade because of fuel,
food and raw materials shortages.
South Korea believes that the readiness
(for combat) of North Korean forces has declined considerably over the last
decade. Lacking fuel (or spare parts or ammunition) for training, the existing
vehicles and aircraft don't get used much. The coast guard still gets fuel,
mainly to prevent people from getting out, or South Korea (or anyone else) from
smuggling agents in. South Korean politicians were also angry when they found
out that some of the money the northerners were spending on the military,
apparently came from the aid being provided by the south.
In the north, what resources are
available go to keeping the leadership and security forces happy. Someone has
to run the place, and you need some nasty guys with guns to make sure no one
gets out of line.