Nuclear-armed North Korea today marked a military anniversary with a massive conventional firing drill, Seoul said, as a US guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea amid tensions over Pyongyang’s weapons ambitions.
Speculation had mounted that the North could carry out a sixth nuclear test or another missile launch to mark 85 years since the founding of its army. But no such event- which usually happens in the morning- had taken place by the evening.
Instead, Seoul’s defence ministry said Pyongyang was conducting a “massive fire drill” in the eastern port city of Wonsan.
The South’s Yonhap news agency cited a government source as saying the exercise was the North’s “largest ever” and was presumed to have been overseen by leader Kim Jong-Un.
Washington has sent the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the Korean peninsula, where it is expected to arrive later this week.
The vessel will take part in joint naval drills with the South’s forces to demonstrate Seoul and Washington’s strong determination to punish North Korean provocations, the South Korean Navy said in a statement.
The nuclear-powered US submarine USS Michigan also made a port call at Busan in the South today in another show of force, while US navy destroyers carried out separate joint exercises with Japanese and South Korean vessels.
The North’s Rodong Sinmun- the official mouthpiece of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea — warned today of dire consequences in the event of a US-led pre-emptive strike.
Top nuclear envoys from Japan, South Korea and the United States met today in Tokyo and vowed “stern action” against any fresh North Korean provocations.