Kim Jong-un Oversees “Special Military Forces” Target-Striking Drill As U.S.-North Korea Tensions Soar

Tension between the U.S. and North Korea is reaching a fever pitch. The latest stunt by Kim Jong-un will no doubt increase friction. The North Korean leader held a special forces military drill Thursday morning (GMT+9).

The Korean Herald reports:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has watched a contest aimed at showing the special military forces’ capacity to drop from planes and strike targets, Pyongyang’s state media said Thursday, amid tensions over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.
The North’s leader guided the contest of the Korean People’s Army special operation forces, during which combatants dropped from light transport planes, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

These photos released by North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun on April 13, 2017, show leader Kim Jong-un observing a target-striking contest by his special troops.

Kim expressed satisfaction, saying, “Bullets seemed to have their eyes, and they were crack shots never missing targets” after watching an automatic rifle firing by combatants of the special operation battalion under the direct control of KPA Unit 525, it said.

Concerns are growing that North Korea could soon conduct its sixth nuclear test or launch a long-range rocket around key anniversaries in April.

The country will mark the 105th birthday of late founder Kim Il-sung on Saturday, and April 25 is the 85th anniversary of the KPA’s creation.

The United States has sent the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group again toward the Korean Peninsula in an apparent effort to counter North Korea’s threats. The North vowed to take tough counteractions, calling the dispatch a “reckless” act.

News of the drill comes as the Hermit Kingdom is rumored to be planning a nuke test this Saturday.

Vessel News reports:

Satellite images courtesy of North 38 have revealed “unusually high levels of activity” at Kim Jong-un’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site. According to experts, the images could mean a nuclear test is “imminent.” North Korea has conducted five declared and remotely detected underground nuclear tests at its dedicated nuclear test site at Punggye-ri in mountainous terrain in the northeast of the country over the last decade, in 2006, 2009, 2013 and twice in 2016.

Figure 1. Activity continues at the North Portal.

The latest images suggest recent activity around the North Portal, which has been used for previous tests with unidentified equipment now at the site.

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Figure 2. Possible new dumping observed at the North Portal spoil pile

Joseph S Bermudez Jr and Jack Liu from North Korea think tank 38 North which monitors the hermit kingdom, said: “Over the past four weeks, there have been unusually high levels of activity at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, especially around the North Portal—the tunnel in which the four most recent nuclear tests have taken place.

Follow Josh Caplan on Twitter at @JoshDCaplan

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