North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has overseen a military drill, state media said yesterday, his third in as many days as tensions run high following Pyongyang’s third nuclear test.
Accompanied by top military commanders, Kim watched a flight exercise and a paratrooping drill by the Korean People’s Army (KPA), the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
“He called on the KPA service personnel to put spurs to making preparations for going into action, keeping themselves at maximum alert at all times. Once the enemies make a provocation, you should give full play to the inexhaustible combat capability to deal deadly blows at them ... and blow up their strongholds of aggression,” he was quoted as saying by KCNA.
Two days ago, KCNA said that Kim had also inspected a tactical attack exercise combined with live shell firing, while on Thursday it said he had visited KPA Unit 323, which is believed to be an anti-air missile unit.
North Korea carried out its third nuclear test in seven years on Feb. 12 in what it says was a riposte to US hostility shown in the widening of UN sanctions following its satellite launch in December last year. World powers on the UN Security Council condemned the nuclear test, and the US led calls for tougher sanctions.
However, Pyongyang has threatened stronger action, defying warnings of UN measures.
North Korea is already under international sanctions for conducting two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, which both came after long-range rocket launches.
Yesterday, North Korea warned the top US military commander stationed in South Korea that his forces would “meet a miserable destruction” if they go ahead with scheduled military drills with South Korean troops, North Korean state media added.
Pak Rim-su, chief delegate of the North Korean military mission to the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom, gave the message by telephone to US Forces’ Korea Commander General James Thurman, KCNA said.
A direct message from the North’s Panmunjom mission to the US commander is rare.
North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950 to 1953 conflict ended in a truce.
The US-South Korean combined forces command is holding an annual computer-based simulation war drill, Key Resolve, from March 11 to March 25, involving 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 US troops. The command also plans to hold Foal Eagle, a two-month-long joint military exercise involving land, sea and air maneuvers.
“If your side ignites a war of aggression by staging the reckless joint military exercises ... at this dangerous time, from that moment your fate will be hung by a thread with every hour,” Pak said.
Washington and Seoul regularly hold defensive military exercises. North Korea, which has stepped up its bellicose threats toward the US and South Korea in recent months, sees them as rehearsals for invasion.
North Korea also threatened South Korea with “final destruction” during a debate at the UN Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday.