Kim Jong-un watches artillery exercises, simulating an attack on a South Korean airfield

North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un led a live-fire artillery exercise simulating an attack on a South Korean airfield and urged his troops to be ready to respond to the enemy’s “feverish preparations for war”, apparently referring to the largest US military exercise involving the South in years.

The North Korean state media report on Friday came a day after the South Korean military discovered the North was firing at least one short-range ballistic missile seaward from a site near the western coastal city of Nampo. The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the South were assessing whether more missiles could have been fired from the area at the same time.

South Korea and the United States is gearing up this month for its largest joint military exercise in years to counter the growing threat of Kim’s nuclear arsenal, which he has aggressively expanded despite the North’s deepening economic isolation and pandemic-related hardships.


Pyongyang’s official Korean central news agency reported that Kim Jong-un called on his troops to be ready to “overwhelm and contain” the military actions of the enemies of the North, which he said were accompanied by “all sorts of more desperate preparations for war.” .”

He said forward units should hone their capabilities to fulfill their two main “strategic missions, that is, first, to contain the war, and second, to take the lead in the war.”

The report did not specify what types of weapons were used in Thursday’s exercises or how many missiles were fired. Some of the North’s latest short-range weapons aimed at South Korea include large-scale multiple rocket launchers that experts say blur the lines between artillery and ballistic missile systems.

North Korea describes some of its more advanced short-range systems as tactical weapons, implying an intention to equip them with lower-yield nuclear weapons.

Experts say the North is using this language to signal the threat of pre-emptive use of these weapons during conventional warfare to weaken the stronger conventional forces of South Korea and the United States, which keep about 28,000 troops in South Korea to help deter potential aggression. from the side of North Korea.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un led an artillery exercise that simulated an attack on a South Korean airfield.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un led an artillery exercise that simulated an attack on a South Korean airfield. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-jun)

Kim’s comments were in line with the North’s escalatory nuclear doctrine last year, which allows for pre-emptive nuclear strikes in situations where it may perceive its leadership as being threatened, including conventional clashes.

Photographs released by North Korea’s official newspaper Rodong Sinmun show at least six missiles fired from boosters lined up in an unidentified coastal forest area.

Kim watched the shooting from an observation post with the military and his daughter, who is believed to be Kim Joo Ae, who is about 10 years old.

It has appeared at several events linked to its military since it was first displayed in a test launch of an ICBM in November, and analysts believe the events and state media’s lofty descriptions of her are intended to show the world that he has no intention of voluntarily refusing. from their nuclear weapons. a weapon which he apparently regards as the surest guarantee of his survival and the continuation of his family’s dynastic rule.

After a record year of missile testing, North Korea held more weapons demonstrations in 2023. Experts say North Korea, with its increased testing and threats, is trying to claim a dual nuclear capability against South Korea and the US mainland.

Kim’s campaign is aimed at getting the United States to recognize the North as a nuclear power and negotiate badly needed economic concessions from a position of strength, analysts say. Diplomacy between the US and North Korea has stalled since 2019.

The United States also recently sent advanced military aircraft, including B-1B and B-52 long-range bombers, to train South Korean aircraft in a show of force, sparking protests from North Korea, which describes the joint allied exercise as rehearsal for an invasion


The South Korean and US military will hold computerized tabletop exercises March 13-23 and will resume their largest spring field exercise last held in 2018. Regular Allied exercises were canceled or reduced in support of diplomacy or due to The COVID-19 pandemic but they resumed them after diplomacy collapsed and North Korean threats and weapons testing intensified.

On Tuesday, Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of the North Korean leader and one of Pyongyang’s top foreign policy officials, warned that her country was prepared to take “quick, overwhelming action” if necessary in the face of expanded allied exercises.

In previous statements, it has threatened to turn the Pacific Ocean into a North Korean firing range and has repeatedly hinted that the North could test an ICBM towards those waters in a ballistic trajectory in what would be seen as one of the most provocative weapons demonstrations ever. .


All tests of North Korean ICBMs since 2017 have been carried out at a high angle to avoid the territories of neighbors.

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