Seoul, Aug 21 (EFE).- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised a cruise missile test on board a warship during a visit to a naval unit, state media reported Monday, coinciding with the start of joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States.
Kim inspected the second surface guard flotilla of the East Sea Fleet of the National Army Maritime Forces, which he entrusted to be the “standard bearer for the increase in naval forces, always creating an example in combat preparations,” state news agency KCNA reported.
The North Korean leader “ascertained the state of the combat readiness and war preparations of the flotilla’s ships” and supervised a cruise missile test to verify “the system specifications and train the sailors to fulfill the mission of attack in a real combat environment.”
“By accurately and quickly hitting the target, (the team) got a perfect assessment of their ship’s routine mobilization status and attack capability” from Kim, KCNA said.
The leader spoke of the importance of “modernizing the armament of the maritime forces, such as the construction of powerful ships and the development of maritime and underwater weapons systems,” to “frustrate” the warlike aspirations of hostile powers toward Pyongyang.
KCNA did not say when the visit took place, but the announcement coincides with the start Monday of the annual Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises by South Korea and the US, criticized by North Korea, who calls them a mock invasion of their territory and usually responds with weapons tests. The joint maneuvers will continue until Aug. 31.
South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff responded to the KCNA report on the naval inspection, calling Pyongyang’s actions and comments “exaggerated.”
“South Korea and the US detected signs in advance and have been monitoring them in real time,” they said in a text sent to the press and picked up by the Yonhap news agency.
It comes a few days after the US, South Korea and Japan held a trilateral summit where they adopted commitments to strengthen their collaboration in defense matters and, specifically, improve their communication in the face of the challenges of North Korea. EFE