N.Korea 'Squandered $700 Million to Create Tensions'

      July 06, 2009 08:39

      North Korea on Saturday fired several ballistic missiles, bringing the total medium and short-range missiles and long-range rockets fired since early this year to 18. They are a long-range rocket launched in April, nine ground-to-ship missiles, seven medium-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, and one surface-to-air missile.

      The North keeps firing the costly missiles despite being in dire economic straits and dependent on food aid. South Korean authorities estimate the costs of Scud-C and Scud-ER missiles at US$4-5 million each and the Rodong missile at approximately $10 million. Based on this estimate, the guess is that North Korea squandered about $43 million on Saturday alone.

      The long-range rocket cost up to $300 million, and the 10 short-range ground-to-ship and surface-to-air missiles cost another $10 million, bringing the total to more than $353 million spent this year shooting missiles into the sea.

      All told, North Korea spent an estimated $700 million to create tensions on the Korean Peninsula this year, including the nuclear test it conducted on May 25 and which cost anywhere between $300 million and $400 million.

      A South Korean government official said $300 million "could have been spent to buy 1 million tons of rice in the international market at the exchange rate of last summer. This amount of rice could have solved the North's food shortage for about a year."

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