N.Korea's assembly decides defense budget for this year

North Korean media say the Supreme People's Assembly decided on a budget and national projects for the year in a two-day session that ended on Wednesday.

The ruling Workers' Party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, and other media reported representatives from across the country gathered in Pyongyang for the session.

Leader Kim Jong Un reportedly did not attend the meeting.

The report says this year's defense spending is estimated at 15.9 percent of total expenditure -- the same rate as last year, when the buildup of national defense was given top priority.

It says the spending will make it possible to implement the ruling party's strategy on national defense.

The report also stresses that North Korea can deal with any threats or challenges posed by hostile forces -- an apparent reference to countries such as the United States.

At the ruling party's meeting in late December, Kim announced a policy for 2023 of stepping up the country's nuclear and missile programs, including the development of a new intercontinental ballistic missile. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the country's founding.

The session of the Supreme People's Assembly apparently adopted a budget in line with that policy.