Report: North Korea border guards do not carry bullets

By Elizabeth Shim  |  Oct. 19, 2017 at 12:27 PM
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Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Members of North Korea's military and secret police have begun to receive distributions of live ammunition, and border guards do not retain bullets while on duty, according to a Japanese press report.

The Asahi Shimbun reported Thursday non-border personnel were given supplies following joint U.S.-South Korea drills that began Monday near the peninsula.

The newspaper was quoting a source in North Korea who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

North Korean border guards and front-line deployment units are banned from carrying live ammunition, because of fear of accidents at the heavily fortified demilitarized zone, according to the report, an indication North Korea is as wary of provoking an unwanted conflict at the border as much as the South and U.S. forces on the peninsula.

Live ammunition was instead delivered to Pyongyang's national security agents and other personnel away from the border.

On Tuesday, North Korea warned the United States after it was confirmed the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was to reach areas near the reclusive country.

"Extensive strategic assets are gathering in waters surrounding South Korea. This is a sign the United States, pushed into a corner, owing to our rapid nuclear power escalation, is engaging in combative actions," KCNA stated.

U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials are prepared for North Korea to launch its next missile, a provocation that would again raise tensions.

Former U.S. nuclear negotiator Robert Gallucci said Thursday tensions should be avoided and high-level U.S.-North Korea talks must take place "without preconditions," Yonhap reported.

"I favor talks that involve relatively senior representatives from both governments -- the United States and North Korea. I think the talks should initially be without preconditions at all from either side," he said.

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