Bangalore, April 6: With North Korea making it clear that foreign diplomats stationed in Pyongyang should better move out as their lives will be put at risk if the country goes to war sometime after April 10, the likelihood of a conflict breaking out on the Korean peninsula has increased considerably.
Reports say North Korea moved two Musudan missiles to its east coast a few days ago. The Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean official as saying that both the mid-range missiles were "loaded on vehicles equipped with launch pads".
Earlier, the Korean Central News Agency reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had "signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA (Korean People's Army)". He ordered the rockets to be put on "standby for fire so that they may strike any time the US mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea", KCNA said.
Seoul is watching Pyongyang's moves with concern, even though it has a powerful ally in Washington.
The military arsenal of the two countries makes for an interesting comparison. North Korea has more tanks, submarines and serviceable combat aircraft while South Korea has a larger number of helicopters and a much bigger defence budget.
Given below is the lowdown on the relative strengths of Seoul and Pyongyang: (compiled with the help of statistics published by The Times of India and The Guardian)
North Korea vs South Korea military comparison
The defence budget of North Korea is much smaller than South Korea's. Pyongyang has allocated just 8.2 billion US dollars for its military. Seoul has allocated a whopping 30.8 billion US dollars for the same.
North Korea has more troops compared to South Korea
North Korea has 12 lakh military personnel while South Korea has 6.55 lakh troops. However, around 28,000 US army personnel are ready to fight on the latter's side.
North Korea has more reserve troops
North Korea has around 77 lakh reserve troops while South Korea has just 30 lakh military personnel as reserve.
North Korea has 4100 tanks
North Korea has 4100 tanks at its disposal. South Korea has only 2400 in comparison but 50 US tanks are expected to bolster it.
Nortk Korea has a heavier artillery
North Korea has a heavier artillery compared to South Korea. The former has 32,000 guns including the ones used for air defence, while the latter has just 11,700 guns to defend itself.
South Korea has far more defence helicopters
Besides getting air support from 120 US helicopters, South Korea has 680 attack helicopters while North Korea has only 300 such helicopters.
South Korea has the edge when it comes to fighter planes
North Korea has 620 fighter planes while South Korea has 680 of them. Apart from this, 120 US fighter jets are expected to wreak havoc on North Korea in case war breaks out.
North Korea has 70 submarines, South Korea just 23
North Korea has 70 submarines while South Korea has just 23 of them.
More warships on the North Korean side
North Korea has 720 warships while South Korea just has 150 warships.
North Korea has plutonium for 4 to 5 nuclear bombs
North Korea has plutonium for 4 to 5 nuclear bombs. South Korea is not believed to have even a single nuclear bomb of its own.
North Korea has 5000 tonnes of chemical weapons
North Korea has 5000 tonnes of chemical weapons but South Korea does not have even a small stockpile of chemical weapons.