North Korea fires artillery rounds over maritime border

North Korea

In a provocative move, both North and South Korea conducted artillery drills along their disputed sea boundary on Friday. They are violating the fragile 2018 inter-Korean military agreement. The firing exercises are anticipated to increase tensions in the region, with experts suggesting that North Korea may escalate weapons tests and rhetoric ahead of South Korea’s parliamentary elections in April and the U.S. presidential election in November.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that North Koreas fired 200 rounds in the waters north of their western sea boundary, marking the North’s first front-line maritime firing exercise in about a year. In response, South Korea conducted artillery rounds south of the sea boundary. However, North Korea did not immediately respond.

The 2018 agreement, which aimed to halt live-fire exercises and aerial surveillance in designated zones along their border, is now at risk of collapsing. Recent breaches include South Korea resuming front-line aerial surveillance in protest of North Korea’s satellite launch in November, prompting North Korea to declare its intention to deploy powerful weapons at the border and disregard the 2018 deal.

Amid rising tensions, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been issuing fierce rhetoric against South Korea. In a ruling-party meeting, he stated that South Korea should not be considered a partner for reconciliation or unification, instructing the military to use all available means, including nuclear weapons, in the event of a conflict.

Experts belief on North Korea Dispute

Experts believe that Kim may be seeking to enhance North Korea’s military capabilities to gain leverage in potential negotiations, especially if former U.S. President Donald Trump is re-elected in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

In a recent development, Kim ordered an increase in the production of mobile launch vehicles for missiles during a visit to a munitions factory. The mobile launch vehicles, known as transport erector launchers (TELs), play a crucial role in North Korea’s defense strategy by allowing the movement of missiles, making it harder for adversaries to detect launches in advance.

As both Koreas engage in actions that jeopardize the 2018 agreement, the international community watches closely, wary of the potential for further provocations and the impact on regional stability.

Sumann Senguptaa

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