S.Korean military ups readiness to counter N.Korea’s ‘provocation’ ahead of drills with US

Ahead of the 11-day Freedom Shield (FS) joint military exercises between South Korea and the US, which begins on March 13, local media reported on Saturday that Seoul has prepared for “North Korean provocation.”


The South Korean military is prepared to fire artillery shots into “buffer zones” in the North as a countermeasure if Pyongyang violates the 2018 inter-Korean military tension reduction agreement by first shooting into the South’s buffer zones, Yonhap News Agency said, citing an unnamed military source.


The military source’s comments came ahead of the combined military exercise, which is set to take place from March 13 to 23, despite the fact that the two Koreans signed an agreement, also known as the Sept. 19 agreement, which calls for a cessation of all hostile military activity between them.


The agreement was reached following a meeting between then-President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018.


Pyongyang violated the Sept. 19 agreement by shooting artillery at maritime “buffer zones” between the Koreas 13 times last year and sending a missile past the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the East Sea in November, according to the news agency.


At the time, Seoul’s military responded to provocations with joint military exercises but no equivalent countermeasures.


However, late last year, Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup told the parliament that the military will take offensive measures if necessary, saying South Korea should not be the only one adhering to the Sept. 19 accord.


Earlier on Thursday, South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman General Kim Seung-kyum vowed to establish a wartime combined operations posture against rising threats from North Korea.


Gen. Kim called on the troops to maintain their capabilities to “strike the enemy’s critical facilities without fail,” Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a statement from his office.


On Feb. 23, North Korea said it fired four “Hwasal-2” strategic cruise missiles toward the East Sea of Korea from the area of Kim Chaek City in North Hamgyong Province.


“The four strategic cruise missiles precisely hit the preset target on the East Sea of Korea after traveling the 2 000km (1,242 miles)-long elliptical and eight-shaped flight orbits for 10 208s to 10 224s,” the Korean Central News Agency reported.


While the sub-unit of a strategic cruise missile unit of the Korean People’s Army also conducted firepower training at hardened sites without live firing.


Source: Anadolu Agency

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