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    North Korea Sustains High Defense Spending with New Budget

    North Korea Sustains High Defense Spending with New Budget

    , South — North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament has passed a budget that sustains a high level of defense spending despite the country's economic troubles as leader Kim Jong Un pushes for an aggressive expansion of his nuclear arsenal.

    State media reports indicated Kim didn't attend the Supreme People's Assembly's two-day session that ended Wednesday. Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency didn't mention any comments by assembly members toward the United States or South Korea in Thursday's report on the meetings.

    The assembly convened weeks after Kim called for an “exponential increase” of nuclear warheads, mass production of battlefield tactical nuclear weapons targeting “enemy” South Korea and the development of more advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the U.S. mainland.

    His statements during a major political conference in December underscored an intensifying nuclear standoff with the United States and its allies in Asia after he pushed North Korea's weapons tests to a record pace in 2022.

    The North fired more than 70 missiles last year, including multiple launches, and conducted a series of tests it described as simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean and U.S. targets.

    Analysts say Kim's aggressive arms expansion and escalatory nuclear doctrine are aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of North Korea as a nuclear and to gain…

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