SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has shown an "unusual increase" in inspecting its artillery's readiness and carrying out air force flight operations, heightening tensions in the region, Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said Friday.
The South Korean defense chief made the remark in a congratulatory message for a commissioning ceremony of medical and veterinary officers, noting that the North has been concentrating on its weapons development while remaining unresponsive to offers for talks.
"North Korea ... has been heightening military tensions through an unusual increase in the inspection activities for its combat readiness posture, mostly of its artillery, and in its air force planes' flight operations," he said.
Along with smaller-scale artillery firing drills, the communist country has conducted five major weapons tests this year.
The latest one took place last week, during which the North fired what appeared to be surface-to-ship cruise missiles off its east coast. On the same day, the North also flew Sukhoi-variant fighter jets and MiG-type planes above the eastern coastal city of Wonsan, and fired multiple air-to-ground missiles into the East Sea.
A Joint Chiefs of Staff officer earlier said there has been an increase in North Korea's surveillance activities in skies near its demarcation line with China over the Yellow Sea, adding that some maritime and air spaces over the body of waters have not been clearly declared either by Pyongyang or Beijing.
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