Artillery drill by North precedes joint exercises

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Artillery drill by North precedes joint exercises

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected a live-fire artillery drill by his country’s military units near the sea border with the rival South, believed to be timed ahead of annual U.S.-South Korean exercises, state media reported on Saturday.

Analysts in Seoul said North Korea was attempting to demonstrate its military capabilities ahead of next month’s U.S.-South Korean drills, which Pyongyang has condemned as a rehearsal for an invasion.

The drill, which involved artillery and anti-ship rockets, was focused on striking and capturing an enemy island, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The exercise involved the Korean People’s Army’s 4th Corps, which led the 2010 shelling of the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong that left four South Korean soldiers and civilians dead. Kim expressed “great satisfaction” during the exercise and urged his army to be prepared for battle against the United States, KCNA said.

The official Rodong Sinmun published photos of Kim watching the exercise with binoculars and projectiles being fired from what appeared to be multiple rocket launchers and other weapons. State media outlets did not disclose the exact time and location of the drill.

The United States and South Korea have repeatedly said that their war games are defensive in nature, and they have no intentions of attacking the North.

North Korea told the United States last month that it was willing to impose a temporary moratorium on its nuclear tests if Washington scraps the military drills with South Korea this year, but the allies have refused to cancel the exercises.

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