WASHINGTON - Analysts say a provocative North Korean artillery exercise near its border with the South may be the beginning of a stepped-up campaign to try and force the United States to end what it sees as hostile policies ahead of its self-declared year-end deadline.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, "is conducting a full-court maximum pressure [campaign] against the [South Korean]-U.S. alliance to try to coerce the alliance into providing concessions, namely sanctions relief," said David Maxwell, a former U.S. Special Forces colonel and current senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Kim recently visited North Korean armed forces at the inter-Korean border island of Changrin, where he instructed the troops to practice firing artillery and prepare for a "real war-like drill with higher degree of intensity," according to a statement released Monday by the country's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
KCNA said the exercise was a"delight" to "the Supreme Leader" but it did not identify the type of weapons fired or the exact date of the visit, saying simply that it was on "an ordinary day like today."
North Korea launched an artillery strike on a South Korean island from the Changrin Islet in 2010, killing four people. That same year, North Korea was accused of torpedoing a South Korean warship near the border, killing 46 sailors.
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