U.N.’s Ban says ‘deeply concerned’ by North Korea tensions

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U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that he was “deeply concerned” by rising tensions after North Korea said it had approved plans for nuclear strikes on U.S. targets.

Speaking on a visit to Monaco, Ban also said he hoped North Korea would “as soon as possible” lift restrictions on South Korean workers at the Kaesong complex, the last real surviving point of contact between the two countries.

This comes after North Korea announced Thursday it has approved plans for nuclear strikes on U.S. targets, here are some facts on the relative conventional strengths of the three militaries present on the Korean peninsula.

The figures are taken from the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies' annual global “Military Balance” report, 2011.

North Korea’s annual defense spending as of 2008 was estimated at $8.2 billion, or 22-24 percent of GDP, while South Korea's as of 2012 was $30.8 billion, or 2.7 percent of GDP.

South Korea is protected by the US “nuclear” umbrella, while North Korea, which conducted its third nuclear test in February, claims a potent nuclear weapons capability.

The range of North Korean missiles and its ability to manufacture and deliver working nuclear warheads, are a matter of dispute.

Most experts think it is not yet capable of mounting a nuclear device on a ballistic missile capable of striking U.S. bases or territory.

North Korea, South Korea (+ U.S. forces)

Ground Forces:

Active troops 1.2 million 655,000 (+ 28,000)

Reserves/Paramilitaries 5-7.7 million 3.0 million

Tanks 4,100 2,400 (+ 50)

Armored personnel carriers 2,500 2,600 (+ 110)

Field artillery pieces 8,500 5,200 (+ 16)

Multiple rocket launchers 5,100 200 (+ 40)

Mortars 7,500 6,000

Air Defense Guns 11,000 300

Air Forces:

Combat aircraft 820 (620 serviceable) 460 (+ 90)

Helicopters 300 680 (+ 120)

Naval Forces:

Principal combat vessels 3 19

Patrol and coastal vessels 383 111

Submarines 70 23

Hovercraft 135 5

Landing ships and craft 130 41