North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected an artillery fire drill to ensure the preparedness of units for an “actual battle,” state-run media said on Tuesday, a day after South Korea saw the inauguration of its first female president.
“An endless barrage of shells were fired by artillery pieces on the (simulated) ‘enemy's positions,’” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, but it did not give the precise time or location of the drill.
Kim said the drill “once again convinced him that all the officers and men of the army are waiting for an order of the supreme commander for a final attack, keeping themselves on maximum alert,” the report said.
He “set forth important tasks to be carried out by the army to make thorough preparations to go into action,” KCNA stated without divulging any information about the mission.
Kim stressed that the “artillerymen should always be ready to open fire to hit the targets anytime an order is issued and deal merciless blows at the enemies when they pre-empt firing,” the report added.
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Tuesday’s report marked the latest in a series of highly-publicized military inspections by Kim following Pyongyang’s third nuclear test on Feb. 12, which was unanimously condemned by the U.N. Security Council.
In December, North Korea successfully used a three-stage rocket to launch a satellite into orbit, following which the U.N. tightened the already existing sanctions on Pyongyang.
"Kim Jong Un's frequent military visits are seen as part of his military-first policies, and attempts to intensify threats against South Korea," Seoul’s defense ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok said in a briefing, as reported by Yonhap news agency. "We are closely observing his military inspections."
Park Geun-hye, sworn in as South Korea’s president Monday, vowed to secure the nation against the threat of an increasingly hostile North Korea, while simultaneously signaling a new drive for greater engagement with Pyongyang.
“North Korea’s recent nuclear test is a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people, and there should be no mistake that the biggest victim will be none other than North Korea itself,” Park said in her inauguration speech in Seoul.