Seoul, South Korea (AP) — North Korea is conducting artillery firing exercises to bolster its defense capability, state media reported on Sunday as Pyongyang pressures Washington and Seoul into its latest weapons tests. that he should give up his hostile policy.
The official Korean Central News Agency reported that an artillery firing competition between mechanized units was held on Saturday, in which senior government and military officials were present.
Leader Kim Jong Un was not mentioned in the report, suggesting that he did not follow through with the training. He oversaw a similar artillery firing drill last year.
KCNA said this year’s exercise was designed to observe the progress of mechanized units in their mobile combat capabilities and to further intensify competitive training across the army of the North.
Since September, North Korea has test-launched a series of newly developed missiles, including nuclear-capable warheads that keep US allies South Korea and Japan within striking distance. Some experts say North Korea wants its rivals to recognize it as a nuclear-powered country and work to ease international sanctions on the country.
The North’s artillery tests receive less outside attention than its missile tests, particularly the introduction of ballistic weapons that are prohibited by several United Nations Security Council resolutions. But its long-range artillery deployed near the border with South Korea pose a serious threat to the South’s metropolitan area and other areas, experts say.
US-led talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear program were underway in early 2019 over sanctions. US officials have recently offered to resume talks with North Korea without any preconditions. The North said it would not return to talks unless the United States first abandons its hostile policy to Pyongyang, an apparent reference to sanctions and regular military exercises between Washington and Seoul.