SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his top military brass met to discuss bolstering war plans, conducting more tests of the country’s latest weaponry, and boosting weapons production, state media said Thursday.
The announced actions are the latest in a string of moves made by North Korea in defiance of international sanctions and criticism, to achieve its stated military hardware goals towards a hope of acquiring relevance on an increasingly fractured global stage.
The enlarged meeting of the party’s Central Military Commission took place Wednesday to make “the army more thoroughly gird for a war, given the grave political and military situation prevailing in the Korean peninsula,” state media KCNA said.
It warned of “plans for offensive military countermeasures to thoroughly deter” the “chief culprits,” a likely reference to South Korea and the United States, which are set to engage in annual, large-scale military exercises later this month.
The Ulchi Freedom Shield drills, which North Korea views as a warm-up to war, are scheduled for August 21 to 24.
Images showed military leaders convening at Kim Jong Un’s private library, as Kim pointed to a blurred-out map of the Korean peninsula, to points that could be Seoul, South Korea’s capital, and a military headquarters.
Kim Jong Un “called for actively conducting actual war drills to efficiently operate newly deployed latest weapons and equipment,” KCNA said. He also set a new goal to boost “weapons production capacity.”
The directive comes about a week after Kim began touring several weapons factories, including one producing shells of large-caliber multiple rocket launchers, according to a Sunday state media report. Kim “expressed great satisfaction”, KCNA said, praising what it said were automated processing systems which produced higher quality, precise weapons.
Soviet-era Grad missiles with North Korean lettering were being used by Ukrainian forces near the city of Bakhmut, a July 29 Financial Times report said, mere days after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu returned from his high-profile visit to North Korea and its weapons expo.
The 120mm multiple-launch rockets were described by Ukrainian soldiers as “very unreliable” and prone to do “crazy things”, with most manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s.
How the rockets got from North Korea to the Russia-Ukraine war across the globe remains unconfirmed. But Pyongyang’s latest public announcement to spur production of its modernized artillery suggests it is not shying away from promoting potential new and illicit exports.
Source : VOA News