North Korea calls for strengthened war readiness posture, expanded drills

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presiding over a military meeting in Pyongyang on Monday. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to expand military drills and beef up the country’s war readiness posture, state media reported on Tuesday, as Pyongyang prepares to mark a military anniversary.

Mr Kim presided over the meeting of the central military commission of the ruling Workers’ Party on Monday, where officials discussed “major military and political tasks” for 2023 and the “long-term issues concerning the orientation for army building”, the KCNA news agency said. 

“Studied and discussed there were... the issue of constantly expanding and intensifying the operation and combat drills of the KPA to cope with the prevailing situation and more strictly perfecting the preparedness for war,” KCNA said, referring to the Korean People’s Army.

The meeting comes as the North is widely expected to stage a military parade to mark the founding anniversary of its armed forces on Wednesday.

Commercial satellite imagery has shown troops practising in formation in Pyongyang, and South Korea has also said it was monitoring increased related activities. 

The military meeting follows North Korea on Thursday condemning drills by the United States and its allies, saying they have reached an “extreme red line” and threaten to turn the peninsula into a “huge war arsenal and a more critical war zone”.

In Thursday’s statement, the North Korean Foreign Ministry condemned a visit to South Korea by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and said Pyongyang was not interested in dialogue as long as Washington pursues hostile policies.

Last Tuesday, Mr Austin and his South Korean counterpart said they would expand military drills and deploy more “strategic assets” such as aircraft carriers and long-range bombers to counter the North’s weapons development and prevent a war. 

When asked about the tensions with North Korea during a stop in the Philippines, Mr Austin said the US goal was to promote greater security and stability and that it remained committed to defending South Korea. REUTERS

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