North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has urged the country’s military to bolster its combat readiness, saying a war could break out “without any prior notice,” state media reported yesterday.
The call comes at a time of heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula following the execution of Kim’s uncle and former mentor, Jang Song-thaek, in an unusually public purge.
Kim visited the Command of Large Combined Unit 526 on Tuesday, the North’s Korean Central News Agency said.
“He instructed the unit to put utmost spurs on rounding off its combat readiness ... always bearing in mind that a war breaks out without any prior notice,” it said.
The unit is based in the North’s western port city of Nampo, according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.
There are growing concerns over the regime’s stability after the execution of Jang.
Seoul and Washington have warned of possible provocative acts by the nuclear-armed North following the purge.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye called for “watertight security readiness” during her trip on Tuesday to a frontline guard post, describing the situation over the border as “ominous.”
“We should react sternly and mercilessly to any provocations by North Korea,” she said.
In recent days the reclusive state’s propaganda mill has gone into overdrive describing Jang as a traitor, while extolling Kim’s leadership.
Tens of thousands of troops pledged loyalty to him in a mass rally on the death anniversary of his father on Tuesday last week.
Meanwhile, satellite imagery suggests North Korea is making “wide-ranging, extensive” efforts to fully reactivate its main nuclear complex, a US think tank said on Tuesday, in line with Pyongyang’s vows to strengthen its weapons program.
Recent images show work at the Yongbyon nuclear compound apparently aimed at producing fuel rods to be used in a plutonium reactor, Johns Hopkins University’s US-Korea Institute said.