N. Korea tank units hailed for readiness 'to liberate south'

Mr Kim at the KPA Tank Crew Competition 2017.Pyongyang is accusing the US and South Korea of preparing for strikes against North Korea's leadership in their ongoing military exercise Foal Eagle (left).
Mr Kim at the KPA Tank Crew Competition 2017. Pyongyang is accusing the US and South Korea of preparing for strikes against North Korea's leadership in their ongoing military exercise Foal Eagle.PHOTO: REUTERS
Mr Kim at the KPA Tank Crew Competition 2017.Pyongyang is accusing the US and South Korea of preparing for strikes against North Korea's leadership in their ongoing military exercise Foal Eagle (left).
Mr Kim at the KPA Tank Crew Competition 2017. Pyongyang is accusing the US and South Korea of preparing for strikes against North Korea's leadership in their ongoing military exercise Foal Eagle (above).PHOTO: REUTERS

PYONGYANG • North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un has supervised a competition of the tank units of the country's army and praised their preparedness to "liberate the southern part of the country".

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Mr Kim guided the Korean People's Army (KPA) Tank Crew Competition 2017 and designated a unit responsible for combat in the Seoul area, capital of South Korea, as the winner. "Tankmen of the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su Guards 105th Tank Division won the competition," said the report.

Mr Kim described the performance of the tanks as excellent and said "it was marvellous to see the tanks crossing even a steep hill at the maximum speed... as representing symbols of the KPA, and they are like iron fists", according to the report.

"The competition clearly showed that the KPA tank crew are fully prepared to be stalwart fighters capable of independently and skillfully carrying out any combat tasks in the operational areas for liberating the southern part of the country," Mr Kim was quoted as saying.

North Korea has warned the United States and South Korea of its own pre-emptive strike aimed at foiling any attempt by the US and South Korean forces to stage "special operations" against its leadership and strategic military installations.

Pyongyang accuses Washington and Seoul of preparing for strikes against North Korea's leadership and destroying its nuclear and missile bases in their ongoing military exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle.

The North has denounced the joint military exercises as a dress rehearsal for northward invasion. The Key Resolve drill reportedly included operation plans on pre-emptive strikes against North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities when signs of attack are detected.

Pyongyang conducted a ballistic missile launch on March 21 and a ballistic missile engine test on March 19, which were strongly condemned by the United Nations Security Council.

Meanwhile, North Korea has reaffirmed its strategy to develop a nuclear strike capability to foil the US ambition to annex it and "reduce all Koreans to modern-day slaves", KCNA reported last Friday, quoting a memorandum released by Pyongyang.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'N. Korea tank units hailed for readiness 'to liberate south''. Print Edition | Subscribe