Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has stepped up North Korea’s weapons testing and resumed the hermit’s nuclear program despite sanctions and pressure on the state to de-escalate
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North Korea has carried out a terrifying show of force with an artillery competition aimed at “destroying the enemy”.
Troops held the competition over the weekend to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities, state media reported on Sunday.
The exercises were conducted on Saturday, state news agency KCNA said, and they are coming as North Korea increasingly complains about a double standard where its military activities draw international criticism while similar exercises typically do not by South Korea and the United States.
Analysts say Pyongyang is trying to normalize its defense activities in order to eventually gain international acceptance of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile arsenals, sanctioned by UN Security Council resolutions.
Much of North Korea’s large conventional artillery power is stationed along the fortified border with South Korea, where it can extend as far as the densely populated capital Seoul.
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The exercises come “at a time when there is excitement throughout the Korean People’s Army (KPA) for intensive training to usher in a new golden age of strengthening state defense capabilities under the banner of self-defense,” KCNA reported.
They were overseen by Pak Jong-chon, a member of the Presidium of the Politburo and secretary of the Central Committee of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party, KCNA said.
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Pak is a general long considered a rising star in the country’s powerful army and a key player in its missile program, promoted to his current positions in September.
General Rim Kwang-il, chief of the general staff of the KVA and commanders of the participating units, watched the exercises with Pak, KCNA said.
North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, was absent from the dismissal.
“As soon as the commanders of the combined units gave the orders to fire, cannon barrels to destroy the enemy shot at the target to hit it precisely,” the report said.
It did so because it was reported that North Korea could source all of the uranium it needs for nuclear weapons through its existing Pyongsan mill.
Satellite imagery of tailings suggests the country can produce far more nuclear fuel than it is, a new academic study concluded.
Despite a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear tests since 2017, North Korea has announced that it will continue to expand its arsenal, and this year it appeared to have reopened a reactor that is widely believed to have produced weapons-grade plutonium.
A study published last month in Science & Global Security by researchers at Stanford University and an Arizona-based mining consultancy said, “It is clear that the DPRK appears to have significantly more grinding capacity than it previously used.
“This means that if desired, the DPRK could produce much larger quantities of ground natural uranium.”