News / Asia

North Korea Seen Conducting Large-Scale Military Drill Soon

North Korean soldiers look towards the south as a South Korean soldier (R) stands guard in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, July 15, 2011.
North Korean soldiers look towards the south as a South Korean soldier (R) stands guard in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, July 15, 2011.

Reports from South Korea indicate a large-scale military exercise by North Korea appears to be imminent.

South Korean government sources say, based on information from intelligence teams, North Korea appears poised for a rare, large-scale military drill.

Government officials, who do not want to be named, say they are “observing closely” North Korean positions. But they say there are no indications the massing of military personnel appears to be anything more than a drill.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Admiral Michael Mullen, addressing reporters in Washington on Monday, did not make mention of the apparent preparations in North Korea for a military exercise.  But the admiral did express concern that Pyongyang’s military will conduct some sort of action against the South again, at some point.

"It is my view that the North Korean regime will once again attempt to provoke hostilities and that once again leaders in the South will face some difficult decisions about if and how to respond," Mullen said. "Thus far, ROK [South Korea] leaders have shown commendable restraint. But I think it would be a grave mistake for the North to perceive this restraint as a lack of resolve or, in fact, of the capability of our alliance to defend itself," Mullen cautioned.

The North prefers to carry out military exercises this time of year, but maneuvers simultaneously involving the army ground force, the navy and air force are unusual.

South Korean media, quoting government sources here, say a significant number of North Korean troops, MiG-21 fighter jets and about 20 naval vessels have assembled, since last week, at two bases in the Yellow Sea.

Sources speaking to VOA say the North Korean maneuvers could begin as soon as Wednesday, with a simulated coastal landing of troops

Analysts say South Korean and U.S. military intelligence units are closely monitoring activities at the Onchon air base and Nampo naval facility to the southwest of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

U.S. Forces Korea, in an e-mailed response to VOA, said it cannot comment on intelligence matters and does not “feel it appropriate to speculate on press reports.”

Monday, North Korea’s official news agency reported that leader Kim Jong-il and his son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un had visited the Navy command in Pyongyang.

North Korea is blamed for the sinking of a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea in 2010.  It also launched an artillery attack on a South Korean island in the same waters last year.

North Korea has repeatedly denied that its torpedo sank the Cheonan warship. As for the shelling of Yeonpyeong island, Pyongyang called it a response to South Korea’s military firing into disputed waters.

Last month, South Korea inaugurated a new defense command to protect Yeonpyeong and four other frontline islands. At the time, President Lee Myung-bak said South Korea would retaliate “strongly and thoroughly” if the North attacked again.

The western sea has long been a flashpoint for the two Koreas.

In recent days, North Korea has been warning of military retaliation if South Korea and the United States go ahead next month with an annual exercise.  North Korean media are terming the joint maneuver an open military threat and preparation for a nuclear attack on the country.

U.S. and South Korean military officials term the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise a routine defensive training “to enhance the combat readiness” of their alliance.

The new commander of the Combined Forces Command, U.S. Army General James Thurman, says the exercise will include “tough and realistic training events focused on preparing, preventing and prevailing against the full range of current and future threats to the Republic of Korea and the region."

The ten-day drill, beginning in mid-August, will see the mobilization of tens of thousands of South Korean and American military personnel.

The military training on both sides of the demilitarized zone comes amid positive diplomatic moves.

For the first time in two-and-a-half years government officials of the two Koreas have held their first non-secret meeting.

That took place last Friday on the sidelines of the ASEAN regional forum on an Indonesian resort island.  Immediately after that surprise meeting, the United States invited a top-ranking North Korean diplomat to New York.  He is to meet with U.S. diplomats there, later this week.

The two Koreas have never signed a peace treaty since their three-year civil war in the early 1950’s, which they fought to a stalemate.

Wednesday marks the 58th anniversary of the signing of the armistice which halted hostile action.  North Korea celebrates it as “War Victory Day.”

At the truce village, Panmunjom, the day is to be commemorated at a short ceremony attended by the military and civilian leadership of the U.S.-led United Nations Command, South Korean officials and the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More