North Korean Army

South Korea have put on a display of military strength, launching a barrage of guided missiles into the Pacific Ocean during drills.

The move comes following North Korea’s successful testing of their first intercontinental ballistic missile, which prompted security concerns in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.

Experts have suggested that North Korea could potentially perfect a missile capable of reaching anywhere in the US, whilst the missile tested on Tuesday has the potential to reach Alaska if launched correctly.

Korean Missile

With 15 warships including a 3,200-ton destroyer, helicopters, fighter jets, South Korea’s drills were aimed at boosting readiness against possible North Korean maritime aggression.

The North Korean missile launch took place on 4th July; American independence day. In retaliation, South Korea and the US also staged "deep strike" precision missile firing drills on Wednesday as a warning to the North.

Rear Admiral Kwon Jeong Seob, who directed the drills, said:

 

"Our military is maintaining the highest-level of readiness to make a swift response even if a war breaks out today,"

 

However there’s no doubt that North Korea is also highly focused on its military advancement. It's hard to know the country's exact military budget, but it's been estimated at around 20.8% of its $40 billion (£33bn) - again estimated - Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

By comparison, the US spent $597bn (£494bn) in 2015, 3.3% of GDP.

Britain is spending $65bn (£54bn) this fiscal year and has pledged to spend 2% of GDP on defence for the next four years.

Most of North Korea's arms are supplied by China and Russia, while annual military exports amount to around $100 million (£83m).

And after the recent ICBM launch, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would never put his weapons programmes up for negotiation unless the US abandoned its hostile policy towards the nation.

US Military aircraft

His statement suggested he will order more missile and nuclear tests until his country develops a functioning ICBM that can place the entire US within its striking distance.

In a UN Security Council session on Wednesday, US ambassador Nikki Haley said the launch was "a clear and sharp military escalation" and America is prepared to use its "considerable military forces" to defend itself and its allies "if we must".

The UN Security Council could impose additional sanctions on North Korea.

However, according to expert John Hemmings, this may not prevent their progress, as the country has an aggressive approach toward security and views the South as "unfinished business".

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