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North Korea fires suspected artillery at sea: South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea tested suspected artillery pieces in the sea on Sunday, the South Korean military said, days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for a greater defense capability to deal with external threats.

South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that they detected several flight paths suspected to be North Korean artillery on Sunday morning. He said South Korea maintains firm military readiness in close coordination with the United States as part of enhanced monitoring of North Korea.

During a National Security Council meeting convened to discuss the alleged launches, South Korean officials expressed concern that North Korea is upgrading weapons systems that pose a direct threat to South Korea. South and reaffirmed that they would deal harshly with these North Korean efforts, according to the South Korean president. Desk.

The North’s artillery tests attract less outside attention than its missile launches. But its forward-deployed long-range artillery guns pose a serious threat to the security of South Korea’s populous metropolitan area, which is only 40-50 kilometers (25-30 miles) from the border with North Korea.

The alleged artillery launches were the latest in a series of weapons tests by North Korea this year in what foreign experts call an attempt to pressure rivals Washington and Seoul to ease sanctions against Pyongyang and make further concessions.

South Korean and US officials recently said North Korea had almost completed preparations for its first nuclear test in about five years. In March, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile test capable of reaching the continental United States in violation of a 2018 moratorium on testing large missiles.

In a speech at a ruling party meeting last week, Kim stressed the need to boost his country’s military capacity, saying the current security environment is “very serious”.

Kim’s speech carried by state media made no mention of the United States or South Korea. But he still set out “militant tasks” for his armed forces and scientists to pursue, a suggestion that he would continue with his high-profile arms buildup plans.

A possible new nuclear test by North Korea would be the seventh of its kind. Some experts say North Korea will likely use the test to build warheads to mount on tactical nuclear weapons aimed at hitting targets in South Korea.

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