Training for ‘all-out war’ with the West: North Korea uses live artillery in drills near border as Kim Jong Un continues threats
- Dictator oversees drill near disputed border with South Korea
- Rogue state has increased warlike rhetoric following fresh UN sanctions
PUBLISHED: 05:51 EST, 14 March 2013 | UPDATED: 08:12 EST, 14 March 2013
The exercise was personally supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, who has issued a series of inflammatory threats against South Korea and the U.S. in recent days.
The drill is the latest sign of worryingly high tensions between the neighbours after North Korea cancelled the ceasefire signed at the end of the Korean War.
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The border where the exercise took place is seen as the most likely site of any clash between the North and the South.
North Korea has threatened a nuclear war with the U.S. after being enraged by new UN sanctions and military drills being held by South Korean and American troops.
Kim praised the artillery units on two islands after watching them hit targets in what state news agency KCNA described as the ‘biggest hotspots in the southwestern sector of the front’.
Over the past few days he has been reported telling troops to ‘cut the enemies’ windpipes’ and threatening ‘all-out war’.
North Korea’s claims to be able to stage a nuclear strike on the United States have been derided by most observers of its missile programme, but it in 2010 its troops killed South Korean civilians while shelling an island.
Pyongyang has kept up a steady stream of incendiary rhetoric since its third nuclear test prompted a push for fresh sanctions at the UN.
It was also subject to sanctions for the launch of a long-range test rocket in December that critics say is aimed at proving its technological capability.
The new UN sanctions aim to stifle funding for the North’s nuclear and missile programmes and for the ruling Kim dynasty, although much will depend on whether China, the North’s main ally, actually enforces them.
So far, it is unclear whether Pyongyang genuinely intends to attack its enemies or whether it is just a rhetorical ploy.
South Korean workers at the Kaesong joint industrial zone in the reported seeing North Korean soldiers wearing camouflage webbing earlier this week but said work was proceeding as normal.