Seoul: North Korea Fires Artillery Shots at Sea

Days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for strengthening defense capabilities against external threats, South Korea’s military said the weapon North Korea tested at sea on Sunday was a heavy artillery shell.

Compared with missile launches, North Korea’s artillery tests have attracted less outside attention than its missile launches. However, its forward-deployed long-range artillery poses a serious threat to densely populated metropolitan areas in South Korea, such as the city of Seoul, which is only 40-50 kilometers (25-30 miles) away from the inter-Korean border.

The suspected artillery fire is the latest in a series of weapons tests conducted by North Korea this year in what foreign experts say is an attempt to pressure its rivals Washington and Seoul to ease international sanctions on Pyongyang and force other concessions.
South Korean and U.S. officials recently said North Korea has nearly completed preparations for its first nuclear test in about five years. In March, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, violating a 2018 moratorium on major missile tests.

At a meeting of the ruling party last week, Kim Jong-un stressed the need to strengthen the country’s military capabilities, saying the current security environment is “very harsh.”

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