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Kim Oversees North Korean Troops Simulating South Korean Attack

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervises a live-fire artillery drill simulating an attack on a South Korean airfield and urged his troops to be prepared to respond to the enemies’ “frantic war preparation moves,” presumably referring to the recent series of military drills between the US and South Korea.

The North Korean official media report comes a day after South Korean military detected the North firing at least one short-range ballistic missile towards the sea from a facility near Nampo, on the country’s western coast. The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff were investigating whether other missiles were launched at the same time.

The US recently sent long-range B-1B and B-52 bombers to South Korea for numerous rounds of joint aerial exercises. The partners are also preparing for their largest combined field training exercise in years this month to challenge Kim’s developing nuclear weapons. Regular US-South Korean military exercises are viewed as invasion drills by North Korea.

According to Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency, Kim ordered his troops to be ready to “overwhelmingly reply to and contain” the North’s adversaries’ military activity, which he said was advancing with “all sorts of more frantic war preparatory actions.”

Frontline forces, he said, should improve their skills in order to carry out their two key “strategic goals,” which are “first to discourage conflict and second to take the initiative in battle.”

On Friday, March 10, 2023, a news programme at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, displays North Korea’s missile launch. In response to his opponents’ “frantic war preparation actions,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a frontline artillery rehearsal simulating an attack on a South Korean airfield, state media reported Friday. (Image by: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Later Friday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry asked North Korea to halt its “reckless nuclear and missile programmes and military provocations.” Vice spokesman Lee Hyo-jung told reporters that North Korea should instead prioritise people’s livelihoods and work towards peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The KCNA report did not clarify what types of weapons were used or how many rockets were shot during Thursday’s practise. Large-scale multiple rocket launchers, which experts say blur the lines between artillery and ballistic missile systems, are among the North’s newer short-range weapons aimed against South Korea.

North Korea refers to some of its more advanced short-range systems as tactical weapons, implying that they will be armed with low-yield battlefield nuclear weapons.

Analysts believe the North is signalling a threat to use those weapons proactively during conventional conflict to dull the greater conventional forces of South Korea and the United States, which maintains approximately 28,000 troops in South Korea to deter future North Korean attack.

Kim’s remarks were consistent with the North’s escalatory nuclear strategy, which authorised preemptive nuclear strikes in scenarios where it perceived its leadership was under threat, including conventional combat.

At least six rockets were fired from launch vehicles lined up in an unidentified coastal woodland location, according to photos provided by North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.

Kim, military authorities, and his daughter, Kim Ju Ae, estimated to be around 10 years old, watched the firings from an observation point.

Kim Jong Un, with his daughter, advises military officers at an undisclosed location in North Korea on Thursday, March 9, 2023. The North Korean authorities barred independent journalists from covering this event. This image cannot be independently verified. “KCNA” is the source’s Korean-language watermark. (Image by: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Since her first appearance at an ICBM test launch in November, she has appeared at several events related to his military, and analysts believe the events and elevated descriptions of her in state media are meant to show the world that he has no intention of voluntarily surrendering his nuclear weapons, which he apparently sees as the strongest guarantee of his survival and the extension of his family’s dynastic rule.

North Korea has undertaken additional military demonstrations in 2023, following a record year for missile testing. Analysts believe North Korea is attempting to claim a dual capability to undertake nuclear strikes against South Korea and the US mainland through increased testing and threats.

Analysts believe Kim’s drive is intended at pushing the US to recognise the North as a nuclear state and to negotiate much-needed economic concessions from a position of strength. Dialogue between the United States and North Korea has been frozen since 2019.

The South Korean and US forces will perform computer-simulated command post training March 13-23, as well as their largest springtime field exercises since 2018. Regular drills were cancelled or reduced to support negotiations or the COVID-19 epidemic, but they were resumed after diplomacy failed and North Korea’s threats and weapons tests worsened.

Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader’s influential sister and one of Pyongyang’s top foreign policy officials, warned on Tuesday that her country is prepared to take “quick, overwhelming response” if the allies expand their drills.

In prior pronouncements, she threatened to transform the Pacific into a firing range for North Korea, implying that the North may test-fire an ICBM towards those waters on a regular ballistic trajectory, which would be considered as one of the North’s most aggressive weapons demonstrations to date.

Since 2017, all of North Korea’s ICBM tests have been conducted at a high angle to avoid neighbouring countries’ boundaries.

Info source – Asahi

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