North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the country's military conduct a massive live-fire drill on Tuesday (25 April), which coincided with the arrival of the US Navy's nuclear powered submarine – the USS Michigan – in South Korea. Kim hailed his troops for their performance in striking mock targets.
Pyongyang's forces reportedly held its largest military drill as a show of strength against the US and South Korea's increasing pressure. The country is celebrating the 85th anniversary of the founding of its military and conducted the military exercise amid growing concerns that the hermit kingdom could opt for a missile launch or a nuclear detonation.
"Submarines rapidly submerged to make torpedo attacks at the 'enemy' warships while fighters and bombers made zero feet flight above the sea to drop bombs on the targets," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a dispatch.
"More than 300 large-calibre self-propelled guns lined up along the coast opened fire all at once," it added about the exercise which took place near an airfield on the eastern front. The mobilisation of self-propelled artillery is seen as an indication that the nation is gearing up to attack arch-rival South Korea, in case an all-out war breaks out in the peninsula.
Following the drill, Kim expressed "great satisfaction over the successful demonstration and highly praised the feats of the service personnel who took part in the exercise".
Earlier, the North warned that it would not hesitate to launch an attack on the US Navy strike group, which is headed towards the Korean peninsula.
"North Korea appeared to show off its military capabilities by mobilising (its assets) including fighter jets and submarines. To mark the anniversary, the country also seemed to aim to inspire the military's self-confidence [through the drill] internally," Lee Duk-haeng, a spokesperson for South Korea's unification ministry, told reporters.