President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un have been exchanging threats and rattling their sabers for nearly a week now. As Washington, D.C. and Pyongyang's rhetoric becomes increasingly tense, concerns over a potential conflict have grown as each country maneuvers to display its military might. But exactly how big is North Korea's army?
North Korea is reported to have more than a million active soldiers with an additional 7.7 million soldiers in reserve, according to a report from CNN. This reportedly gives the communist country one of the largest armies in the world. According to The Telegraph, the U.S. government estimates Pyongyang has invested nearly a quarter of its GDP into developing its military over the course of the last 10 years. However, despite its investment, there have been multiple reports that as Pyongyang turned its attention toward its nuclear weapons program, its military has been forced to rely on outdated equipment.
North Korea's army is reported to have more than 3,500 battle tanks — although The Telegraph reports they are mainly aging models — and more than 21,000 artillery pieces. Within its air force, North Korea is believed to have hundreds of helicopters and more than 500 combat-capable aircraft. However, many of the aircraft in use by the North Korean military are again reported to date back decades, with only a small fraction being more modern MiG 21s, MiG 23s, and MiG 29s.
The communist country is also believed to have a stockpile of chemical weapons, including sulfur mustard, sarin, and VX, among others. And while reports of North Korea's biological weapon capabilities are less clear, South Korea reportedly believes its neighbor can create anthrax, smallpox, and hemorrhagic fevers, although it remains unclear if North Korea can deploy such biological weapons on the battlefield. The country is also reported to have a highly-capable cyber-warfare unit, according to Reuters.
On Friday, Trump claimed "military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded" should North Korea "act unwisely" and follow through with earlier threats to fire missiles at targets near Guam. North Korea, however, hasn't appeared willing to back down, with The Washington Post reporting a state-run newspaper claimed "the U.S. and its vassal forces will dearly pay for the harshest sanctions and pressure and reckless military provocations." But although Trump and Kim Jong-un have yet to stop exchanging threats, there's no reason to believe we're headed to war just yet.