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Kim Jong Un orders front-line 'war deterrent' amid mounting nuclear concerns

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered a strengthened "war deterrent" at a military meeting, state media reported Friday, amid growing concerns of a nuclear test. File Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered a strengthened "war deterrent" at a military meeting, state media reported Friday, amid growing concerns of a nuclear test. File Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

SEOUL, June 24 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for boosting the country's "war deterrent," state media reported Friday, amid a planned reshuffling of front-line units on the border that has raised further concerns of a nuclear threat toward South Korea.

Kim concluded a three-day meeting of top military officials and approved "a military guarantee for further strengthening the country's war deterrent," Korean Central News Agency reported.

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Officials "decided to supplement the operation duties of [Korean People's Army] front-line units with an important military action plan," the KCNA report said.

In April, Pyongyang suggested it would deploy tactical nuclear weapons on artillery units near the border of South Korea to be used in a counterattack.

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North Korean state media on Thursday released images of military officials at the meeting in front of a map of what appeared to be South Korea's east coast.

U.S. and South Korean officials have warned repeatedly over the past several weeks that the secretive state is preparing to conduct a nuclear test at any time.

Earlier this month, Seoul's Foreign Minister Park Jin told reporters in Washington that North Korea "has now finished the preparation for another nuclear test, and I think only [a] political decision has to be made."

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North Korea has conducted a flurry of weapons tests since the start of the year, culminating in the March 24 firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile. It marked the first time Pyongyang had conducted a full launch of an ICBM since November 2017.

At the same time, North Korea has been focusing on the development of new and evasive short-range missiles meant to carry tactical nuclear warheads, which could be deployed in more conventional battles.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol told reporters Friday that Seoul was "thoroughly" preparing a response to North Korea's military developments.

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