North Korea stages largest live-fire artillery exercise

by WorldTribune Staff, April 26, 2017

Kim Jong-Un looked on as more than 300 large-caliber artillery pieces engaged in North Korea’s “largest ever” live-fire drills on April 25.

The massive artillery drill saw rockets fired at mock enemy warships as hundreds of tanks lined up along the eastern coastal town of Wonsan in what reports said was a show of military strength to celebrate 85 years since the North Korean army was formed.

More than 300 large-caliber artillery pieces were fired in the drill. /AP

Speculation had mounted that the North may carry out a sixth nuclear test or another missile launch to mark 85 years since the founding of its army.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited a government source as saying the April 25 exercise, called “Combined Fire Demonstration”, was the North’s “largest ever.”

“Our great leaders founded and wisely led our revolutionary army, and just like that, now our respected Marshal Kim Jong-Un is leading wisely, so even though the situation is tense, we are celebrating the day,” said North Korean Choe Un-Byol, who celebrated the day with his family.

North Korea often marks significant dates by displaying its military capability. It launched a missile one day after the 105th birthday of late founder Kim Il-Sung on April 15.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was closely watching North Korean military action in the Wonsan city area.

South Korea on April 26 conducted joint military live-fire drills with the United States at Seungjin fire training field in Pocheon, near the border with North Korea.

Kim Jong-Un saluted his military from the top of a private car as they drove through the demonstration. /Reuters

“The situation prevailing on the Korean Peninsula is so tense that a nuclear war may break out due to the frantic war drills of the U.S. imperialists and their vassal forces for aggression,” North Korean Gen. Pak Yong-Sik said at a meeting of senior military and civilian officials.

South Korea’s military exercise took place as the USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine arrived in the port of Busan and envoys from the U.S., Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo to discuss the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles program, the Daily Mail reported.

Seoul also announced that key parts of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) have been installed.

U.S. President Donald Trump, in an April 24 meeting with members of the UN Security Council at the White House, said the “status quo” in North Korea is “unacceptable.”

“The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions,” Trump said.

Trump said the Kim Jong-Un regime is “a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not.

Hundreds of tanks were lined up along the eastern coastal town of Wonsan. /AP

“North Korea is a big world problem, and it’s a problem we have to finally solve. People have put blindfolds on for decades, and now it’s time to solve the problem.”

Nikki Haley, Trump’s UN ambassador, said the U.S. is not looking for a fight with Kim and would not attack North Korea “unless he gives us reason to do something.”

When asked about the threshold for U.S. action, Haley told NBC that “if you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we’re going to do that.”

Asked what if North Korea tests an intercontinental missile or nuclear device, Haley said: “I think then the president steps in and decides what’s going to happen.”