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Kim Jong Un calls for intensified drills to simulate ‘real war’

The North Korean leader calls just days before the US and South Korea begin their largest exercises since 2018.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has followed a series of missile tests simulating the destruction of an enemy airport while calling on the military to step up exercises to simulate “real war.”

State media also showed Kim’s young daughter sitting on a couch watching the Thursday night screening, which was described as a success.

NK News, an online outlet specializing in North Korea, said photos published Friday in the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed the test involved six short-range ballistic missile launch vehicles, each capable of carrying four missiles. The launchers were positioned along a wooded coastal area.

The South Korean military said it detected the launch of “several rounds of SRBMs fired from the same region” from North Korea’s west coast at around 6:20 pm (09:20 GMT) on Thursday evening.

North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said a unit trained for “attack missions” fired a “powerful salvo into the targeted waters” and demonstrated its ability to “counter an actual war.”

“(Kim) emphasized that the fire attack sub-units must be strictly prepared to the utmost perfection in carrying out the two strategic missions, that is, firstly, to deter war and secondly, to take the initiative in war, by steadily intensifying various simulated exercises. for real war…,” KCNA said.

The latest launches come just days before the United States and South Korea begin large-scale joint military exercises known as Freedom Shield, which were last held in 2018. Pyongyang has already canceled all exercises involving the two countries’ armed forces. long portrayed as rehearsals. for invasion.

Analysts say Pyongyang is likely to step up testing as exercises continue. Freedom Shield begins on March 13 and is expected to last 10 days.

“This is likely just the beginning of a series of provocative tests by North Korea,” Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said in emailed comments.

“Pyongyang is poised to react aggressively to major defense exercises between the US and South Korea, as well as to President Yoon’s upcoming summits with Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden. The Kim regime may order missiles to be fired over longer ranges, attempt to launch a spy satellite, demonstrate a solid-fuel engine, and perhaps even conduct a nuclear test.”

Kim’s young daughter joins him at some recent events (KCNA via KNS and AFP)

North Korea has ramped up weapons development since 2019, when diplomatic efforts to contain its nuclear and missile program failed.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office last year, has taken a more aggressive approach to Pyongyang, taking steps to strengthen diplomatic ties and security cooperation with the US and Japan.

Yoon will travel to Japan next week and to the US for a state visit on April 26, where he will meet with President Joe Biden.

Pyongyang last year adopted an escalating nuclear doctrine, which authorized the use of preemptive nuclear strikes in a variety of situations where it might consider its leadership threatened.

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, warned earlier this week that any attempt to shoot down one of his test missiles would be considered a declaration of war.

North Korea conducted a record number of missile tests last year and has continued operations into 2023 with test launches of an intercontinental ballistic missile, short-range missiles and an alleged long-range cruise missile system in recent weeks.

It last conducted a nuclear test in September 2017.