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(LEAD) N. Korea says it staged missile drill to practice striking S. Korean ports, airfields

All News 09:13 July 20, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS context in lead, more KCNA comment in 5th para, background in last para)

SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Wednesday said it conducted the recent missile launch drill with the aim of practicing pre-emptive strikes against South Korean ports and airfields.

On Tuesday, Pyongyang test-fired three ballistic missiles -- two Scuds and one Rodong -- in an apparent "armed protest" against South Korea's recent decision to deploy an advanced U.S. anti-missile system in the country to counter growing threats from the North.

"The drill was conducted by limiting the firing range under the simulated conditions of making pre-emptive strikes at ports and airfields in the operational theater in South Korea, where the U.S. imperialists’ nuclear war hardware is to be hurled," North Korea said in an English dispatch carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "provided field guidance to the drill," observing that the ballistic missiles launched in Hwangju, North Hwanghae Province, flew across the country and hit the East Sea, the KCNA said.

In the "successful" drill, the KCNA said North Korea "once again examined the operational features of the detonating devices of nuclear warheads mounted on the ballistic rockets at the designated altitude over the target area."

On July 8, Seoul and Washington announced a decision to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea by the end of 2017 to deal with evolving nuclear and missile threats from the communist country.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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