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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid