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Report: North Korea ready to stage artillery exercises on Lunar New Year

Report: North Korea ready to stage artillery exercises on Lunar New Year
Kim Jong Un’s personal train was detected near the North Korean city of Wonsan, according to a South Korean press report. File Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

Feb. 11 (UPI) -- North Korea could be preparing to stage a large-scale artillery exercise and the activity could take place during the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins Friday.

JoongAng Ilbo reported Thursday South Korean military authorities are monitoring unusual movements in the North, a day after Kim Jong Un gave inter-Korean and foreign policy directives during a Workers' Party committee meeting.

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The movements were seen taking place in the coastal North Korean city of Wonsan that indicate preparations for artillery drills, multiples sources said, according to the report.

Authorities in Seoul also are not ruling out the possibility Kim will be present at the training. A JoongAng source told the paper Kim's personal train was seen in an area near Wonsan.

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"There is a possibility Kim will stay near Wonsan and visit the training grounds," the source said.

An unidentified South Korean military official said the preparations could be the "second half" of North Korea's winter training.

"It is our understanding the winter exercises are planned through March 31," the official said, according to the JoongAng.

RELATED Kim Jong Un addressed inter-Korean, foreign relations, state media says

In January North Korea called the United States its "biggest enemy" and vowed to complete development of hypersonic missiles and nuclear-powered submarines. Submarine-launched ballistic missiles have also been tested under Kim's orders.

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U.S. analysts Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha said Wednesday in satellite imagery analysis on the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Beyond Parallel site the North was showing no signs of imminent provocation, but the regime could "conduct additional SLBM tests at any time of its choosing," and "present significant challenges to the new Biden administration."

North Korea's weapons are expensive to develop and production occurs often at the expense of its people.

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Jo Yong Won, secretary of the central committee of the Korean Workers' Party, said during the plenary meeting of the party's eighth central committee the government has fallen short of production goals. Jo criticized party members for not delivering on promises, and their "passivity," according to state media.

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