North Korea fires suspected artillery pieces into sea: South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Sunday conducted a test of suspected artillery pieces at sea, the South Korean military said, days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for increased defense capabilities to counter external threats. to cope.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said in a statement it detected several flight paths believed to be North Korean artillery on Sunday morning. It said South Korea maintains strong military preparedness in close cooperation with the United States amid strengthened surveillance of North Korea.

At a National Security Council meeting called to discuss the suspected launches, South Korean officials expressed concern about upgrading weapons systems that pose a direct threat to South Korea and reaffirmed their commitment to such North Korean efforts. tough approach, according to South Korea’s presidential election. office.

The North’s artillery tests attract less outside attention than the missile launches. But the forward-positioned long-range artillery guns pose a serious threat to the security of South Korea’s densely populated metropolitan region, which lies just 40-50 kilometers (25-30 miles) from the border with North Korea.

The suspected artillery launches were the latest in a wave of weapons tests by North Korea this year in what foreign experts call an effort to pressure its rivals Washington and Seoul to relax international sanctions against Pyongyang and make other concessions.

South Korean and US officials recently said North Korea was nearing completion of preparations for its first nuclear test in about five years. In March, North Korea launched a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the US mainland in violation of a 2018 moratorium on major missile tests.

Speaking at a ruling party meeting last week, Kim underlined the need to strengthen his country’s military capabilities, saying the current security environment is “very serious”.

Kim’s speech by state media made no mention of the United States or South Korea. But he still set out “militant duties” to be pursued by his armed forces and scientists, suggesting that he continue with his high-profile weapons-building plans.

A possible new nuclear test by North Korea would be the seventh of its kind. Some experts say North Korea will likely use the test to build nuclear warheads that can be mounted on tactical nuclear weapons to hit targets in South Korea.

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