SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised a live-fire artillery drill simulating an attack on a South Korean airfield and called for his troops to be ready to respond to the enemies’ “frantic war preparation moves” — apparently referring to the recent series of military drills between the United States and South Korea.
The North Korean state media report Friday, March 10, 2023 came a day after South Korea’s military detected the North firing at least one short-range ballistic missile toward the sea from a site near the western coastal city of Nampo. The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff was assessing whether more missiles may have been launched simultaneously.
The United States has recently sent long-range B-1B and B-52 bombers for several rounds of joint aerial drills with South Korean warplanes. The allies are also preparing this month for their biggest combined field training exercise in years to counter the growing threat of Kim’s growing nuclear arsenal. North Korea views regular US-South Korean military exercises as invasion rehearsals.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said Kim urged his troops to be prepared to “overwhelmingly respond to and contain” the military action of the North’s enemies, which he said were proceeding with “all sorts of more frantic war preparation moves.”
He said frontline units should sharpen their capabilities to carry out their two main “strategic missions, that is, first to deter war and second to take the initiative in war.”
Coming off a record year in missile testing, North Korea has conducted additional weapons demonstrations in 2023. Experts say North Korea with its heightened testing activity and threats is trying to claim a dual ability to conduct nuclear strikes against South Korea and the US mainland.
Kim’s campaign is aimed at forcing the United States into accepting the North as a nuclear power and negotiating badly needed economic concessions from a position of strength, analysts say. Diplomacy between the US and North Korea has stalled since 2019.
The South Korean and US militaries will conduct computer-simulated command post training March 13-23 and will resume their largest springtime field exercises, which were last held in 2018. The allies’ regular drills were canceled or scaled back to support diplomacy or because of the Covid-19 pandemic but they renewed them after the diplomacy collapsed and North Korea’s threats and weapons testing escalated.
All of North Korea’s ICBM tests since 2017 have been conducted on a high angle to avoid the territories of neighbors. (Ap)